Running backs not named Todd Gurley
It is highly unlikely that the Atlanta Falcons would’ve allowed Todd Gurley to see any game action during the preseason to lower the risk of injuring his knees, so not having any games all together has no real impact in regards to setting his place on the squad. I don’t think anyone doubts who the starter will be in Atlanta. However, who will be behind Todd Gurley is a bit of a head-scratcher as each player has some drawbacks.
The Atlanta Falcons currently have four running backs behind Gurley. Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison, Brian Hill, and Mikey Daniel. I don’t think it is likely that the Falcons keep more than three running backs on the roster and the first easy write off is rookie Mikey Daniel. The rookie out of South Dakota State just doesn’t have a real shot to make the team, especially with no games to be played.
However, Smith, Hill, and Ollison needed the preseason to build upon their resume to make the roster. Over the course of each player’s career in Atlanta (the only exception being Ollison), they have at one point been assigned as the lead back for a game or two due to injuries from Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and Smith himself.
It’s hard to label Ito Smith as the obvious back-up due to his inability to stay healthy, but despite only playing seven games, his 4.8 yards per attempt were the highest for the Atlanta Falcons in 2019. On the contrary, he only averaged three carries per game and carried the ball five or more times only twice.
Brian Hill had a much better 2019 than Smith did in his best season in 2018. However, with Hill, twice he was given the ball 15 or more times and both times he disappointed heavily. Hill saw the ball 20 times in the win in New Orleans and only managed to get 61 yards. He followed that performance with an abysmal 30 yards on 15 carries and scored a touchdown in neither of those games.
The 2020 preseason was supposed to be the proving ground for these players – especially Ollison who hasn’t shown anything other than he can punch it in from the one-yard line. It’s very likely that one of these guys gets cut alongside Daniel but we’ll never get a full understanding without games being played.