The Falcons learned the value of having two running backs that can handle the lead role in the backfield last season.
Tevin Coleman started the opener with Devonta Freeman recovering from a hamstring injury but gave the job back the next week after hurting his ribs against the Giants. Freeman would go on to run for 1,056 yards, but the Falcons didn’t lose much when Coleman ran for 158 yards over two starts later in the year while Freeman was dealing with a concussion.
Both players are healthy this year and Freeman remains installed as the starter, but offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan says that both will play and that their ultimate playing time will be determined by how they play over the course of games.
“Go with the guy who’s hot; keep them both fresh,” Shanahan said, via ESPN.com. “I don’t worry about that stuff too much. I love both those backs. There’s really no difference to me which one is in the game, so it’s a good problem to have. Whoever’s rolling with it, you stick with him. When they need a break, the other guy comes in. You try to keep them both fresh to see how it pans out at the end of the game.”
The Falcons finished in the middle of the pack when it came to running the ball last season and improved results on that front would take some of the onus of the passing game in Atlanta. That could help cut down on the interceptions that plagued their offense last year whether Coleman or Freeman winds up doing the lion’s share of the running.