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Falcons Suddenly Thin At Rb After Freeman's Hamstring Injury


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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons are facing a sudden void atop their depth chart at running back after Devonta Freeman strained his hamstring in Thursday's practice.

Freeman spent the remainder of practice with trainers on the practice field. He wasn't taken inside, an indicator the injury is not believed to be serious.

Even so, hamstring injuries can be slow to heal. The Falcons have more reason for concern: Rookie Tevin Coleman strained his hamstring on Wednesday and did not practice Thursday.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said he hopes the strains are mild.

''I don't know yet but I don't think it's anything serious,'' Shanahan said of Freeman's injury. ''It's part of camp.

''I've really never gone through camp without backs going down. It happens at every position. Hopefully they get healthy fast and get back out there again.''

Freeman opened training camp as the favorite to start. Freeman has impressed first-year coach Dan Quinn, who seems to have a new compliment for the running back every day. Even when talking about the new injury, Quinn had more praise for Freeman.

''Hopefully it's a quick turnaround and he can get back,'' Quinn said. ''He's such a passionate competitor. You could see how disappointed he was not to be able to finish the day. He is an absolute competitor and just every day he brings it. He stands for a lot of stuff I love about our team, his attitude, intensity and toughness and wanting to compete. All those are traits we look for and he brings them every day.''

The injuries created an unexpected opportunity for veteran Antone Smith and undrafted rookie Terron Ward. Each running back saw time with the starters late in practice.

Smith, entering his sixth season with Atlanta, first made his mark on special teams. He has had chances to impress on offense the last two seasons. He had only 23 carries for 144 yards last season, but scored five touchdowns, including touchdown receptions of 54, 74 and 41 yards.

Smith scored on a long run following a short pass from Ryan on Thursday. Still, he has not shown he can be more than a complementary back.

Ward, from Oregon State, is a long shot to win a roster spot. He could have an opportunity if Freeman and Coleman don't make quick returns from their injuries. Ward ran for 696 yards and 10 touchdowns for Oregon State in 2014.

Ward lost a fumble on the last play of the practice.

There is no indication the Falcons will look for help at running back, though that could change if the injuries are more serious than believed.

''No. I think we've got a bunch of guys who can play,'' Shanahan said. ''Depth is always a concern at every position. That always depends on injuries and stuff that you can't control. I try not to worry about it.''

The Falcons play their preseason opener against Tennessee on Aug. 14.

NOTES: The Falcons will hold their eighth annual Friday Night Lights at an area high school on Friday night. This year's event, open to the public, will be held at Buford High, about 15 minutes from the team's practice facility. ... CB Jalen Collins, a second-round pick, was beaten on deep routes by veteran WRs Leonard Hankerson and Devin Hester. ... Quinn said rookie TE Beau Gardner was still being evaluated after leaving Wednesday's practice with a knee injury. DE Cliff Matthews (ankle) and OLB Brooks Reed (hip strain) missed their second straight practice. Quinn said several players, including Reed and rookie WR Justin Hardy, have a stomach virus that also has hit some coaches. ''When you live this close together, it's like 'I don't feel too good and now you don't, either,''' Quinn said.

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/falcons-suddenly-thin-rb-freemans-hamstring-injury-180553872--nfl.html

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"The injuries created an unexpected opportunity for veteran Antone Smith and undrafted rookie Terron Ward. Each running back saw time with the starters late in practice."

But alas no opportunity for Jerome Smith

wonder why?

It really just looks like there's nothing special about JSmith.

Ward seems to be hungry as **** and a bruiser, and we know what we have in ASmith. I never hear anything about J.

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I don't like that we are banged up at RB but this early in camp, with another 2 weeks and some days before we start kind of treating week 3 like a regular season game, I want to see Ward and Tone get as many reps as possible.

The key to a running game by committee to be effective is all the Rbs that will have to have that feel with the oline. We know Tone will see his runs, so this is a great time to herb some valuable reps.

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Just feels like a stir the pot drama kind of article to me. Get people sweating so to speak.

"Oh noes we are thin at RB because our top two have minor hammy strains in the first week of camp!"

"We are doomed!"

Not gonna lie to you. I'm fast becoming a Terron Ward fan myself. L thought he would start pushing people, but I just like something about him. I mean, I'm a fan of his brother TJ as well.

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Not gonna lie to you. I'm fast becoming a Terron Ward fan myself. L thought he would start pushing people, but I just like something about him. I mean, I'm a fan of his brother TJ as well.

Oh I have been secretly fawning over Ward myself. I have been keeping it to myself, but I do like the guy. He is a little bowling ball. Every time I pick an underdog UDFA in the off season they seem to become targets for the haters that like to hate on guys just cause folks like them and are excited about them. I am running thin on patience for that kind of nonsense.

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Oh I have been secretly fawning over Ward myself. I have been keeping it to myself, but I do like the guy. He is a little bowling ball. Every time I pick an underdog UDFA in the off season they seem to become targets for the haters that like to hate on guys just cause folks like them and are excited about them. I am running thin on patience for that kind of nonsense.

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Oh I have been secretly fawning over Ward myself. I have been keeping it to myself, but I do like the guy. He is a little bowling ball. Every time I pick an underdog UDFA in the off season they seem to become targets for the haters that like to hate on guys just cause folks like them and are excited about them. I am running thin on patience for that kind of nonsense.

Forget all that man. Listen, I look like a fool every off season, but by the end of the year I make sense. If I really believe something I stand by it no matter how unpopular. Had you said more about Ward I would have spent more time looking at him. It would have cleared my worries about RB and made me care a lot less about who between Coleman and Freeman. It helps when people say something unpopular...it makes guys like me go looking. I scouted Ward all day today...just about all day. Thrilled with him.

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Forget all that man. Listen, I look like a fool every off season, but by the end of the year I make sense. If I really believe something I stand by it no matter how unpopular. Had you said more about Ward I would have spent more time looking at him. It would have cleared my worries about RB and made me care a lot less about who between Coleman and Freeman. It helps when people say something unpopular...it makes guys like me go looking. I scouted Ward all day today...just about all day. Thrilled with him.

Oh you know me, I have no problem saying something unpopular. With my added responsibilities now though I just need to be a bit more careful. These people know who they are. They spend more time bashing others opinions than they do actually talking football. I have no time for that and if it comes down to it I would nuke them in a heartbeat. I don't want to start all that.

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While RB is obviously a very different position from OL, Schraeder suffered a hamstring strain earlier in camp and only missed a day, he's just been limited. It's possible one of these 2 guys is back next week. Hopefully they both had very minor strains and don't miss more than 2 weeks

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While RB is obviously a very different position from OL, Schraeder suffered a hamstring strain earlier in camp and only missed a day, he's just been limited. It's possible one of these 2 guys is back next week. Hopefully they both had very minor strains and don't miss more than 2 weeks

He'll be limited for about 2 weeks or so.

Try making a cut with a hurt hammy though, hit that second gear. Push for more yards.

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Oh you know me, I have no problem saying something unpopular. With my added responsibilities now though I just need to be a bit more careful. These people know who they are. They spend more time bashing others opinions than they do actually talking football. I have no time for that and if it comes down to it I would nuke them in a heartbeat. I don't want to start all that.

True, very true. If you see something though, tell me about it man. I'm always interested. I mean, I am not one who actually saw anything in Reedy, but I do like Nic Williams and I liked Stone early on.

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