Atlanta Falcons: What can we expect from the running game in 2020?

Ito Smith will hope to be part of an improved Atlanta Falcons running game (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Ito Smith will hope to be part of an improved Atlanta Falcons running game (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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Falcons running game
Todd Gurley has been brought in to kick-start the Falcons running game /

The 2020 Atlanta Falcons running backs.

After years of Devonta Freeman ruling the backfield, the team opted to move in a new direction for 2020, releasing the two-time pro bowler.

Todd Gurley

Gurley signing in Atlanta was one of the good news stories of the offseason. The former Georgia Bulldog’s release by the Los Angeles Rams opened the door for the hugely popular RB’s homecoming. Injuries have slowed him down in recent seasons, but he was a legitimate MVP candidate multiple times during his time with the Rams.

It remains to be seen whether the Falcons will attempt to manage the load or run him until he can run no more, but he’s the most naturally talented running back in recent memory.

Brian Hill

It’s been a strange road for Hill. After being drafted by the Falcons in the fifth round in 2017, he initially made the active roster before being moved to the practice squad. The Cincinnati Bengals then signed him and gave him his first taste of NFL action.

Upon his release in 2018, he was re-signed by the Atlanta Falcons and promoted to the active roster, finishing 2018 with a small number of carries. 2019 was his opportunity to show he belonged in the league and he did enough to earn another season with the team, in which he’ll compete to be the primary backup to Gurley.

Ito Smith

Smith will challenge Hill for carries in 2020. He’s another who impressed the Falcons enough to convince them to use a day three pick, this time in the 2018 draft. He looked solid as a rookie but his second season was cut short by a concussion before he was able to put his stamp on it.

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Qadree Ollison

The least dynamic of the options in the backfield, Ollison is the battering ram of the group. He found a role last season as a short-yardage and goal-line back, finishing his rookie year with four rushing touchdowns on just 22 carries. He’s unlikely to see a huge increase in carries but could still be used when the Falcons need a big body.