The Falcons will place Devonta Freeman on injured reserve, according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports (on Twitter). It’s a crushing blow for the Falcons, who were hoping to get him back on the field sooner rather than later.
The Falcons’ starting running back has dealt with knee and foot trouble this year, but a groin injury has become his most pressing issue. Atlanta has been using Tevin Coleman and newcomer Ito Smith in the backfield, and they’ll continue to lean on that duo during Freeman’s extended absence.
Freeman will be a candidate to return from IR later this year after undergoing groin surgery, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Per league rules, he’ll have to miss a minimum of eight weeks, meaning that he cannot play until Week 14 against the Packers, at the earliest.
Freeman rarely battled injury issues through the early part of his career, as he played in 47-of-48 games between 2014 and 2016. He missed a pair of games last season with a concussion, and he’s only played in a pair of games this season. In those two games, the 26-year-old has compiled only 68 rushing yards. He’s under contract through 2022 after inking a five-year, $41.25MM extension last August.
The Falcons improved to 2-4 on the year after topping the rival Buccaneers on Sunday. Strangely enough, they’re 0-2 with Freeman in the lineup and 2-2 without him. Of course, they might have fared better against the Eagles and Steelers if they had Freeman at full strength. Between those two games in Week 1 and Week 5, Freeman drew just 14 totes and seven targets.
The Falcons have agreed to sign kicker Giorgio Tavecchioto a two-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Tavecchio, who was with the club in camp, will hold down the fort while starter Matt Bryant recovers from a hamstring injury.
Tavecchio, 28, was released by the Raiders earlier this year, despite a decent 2017 season in which he made 16 of 21 field goal attempts, including three from 50-plus yards. He also made 33 of his 34 extra point attempts last year. He was signed in August to compete for the top job, but that was a longshot given Bryant’s track record. While Tavecchio missed the final cut, the Falcons kept his number handy.
Through six games, the ageless Bryant has nailed all nine of his field goal attempts, including three tries from 50 yards or more. For at least a game or two, Tavecchio will try to uphold the high standard Bryant has set.
The Falcons will be looking for a new kicker for temporary purposes. Matt Bryant will miss Atlanta’s Week 7 Monday night game, Dan Quinn said. The longtime Falcons kicker is dealing with a strained hamstring, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, who adds Giorgio Tavecchio is among the names the Falcons are considering as a replacement. Tavecchio was briefly affiliated with the Falcons earlier this year, but Bryant’s kicked in all six Falcon games in his 10th season with the franchise. He hasn’t missed a game since he was limited to 11 appearances in 2015. Tavecchio will be among “a number of kickers” considered during the lead-up to the Falcons’ home Monday-nighter against the Giants.
Another week of recovery will likely be required for Devonta Freeman, per McClure. The Falcons’ starting running back is has dealt with knee and foot trouble and now has a groin issue to overcome. Atlanta’s gotten by with Tevin Coleman and newcomer Ito Smith in the backfield.
La Canfora reports that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tried to hire Falcons team president Rich McKay in recent years to oversee the league’s football operations, a department that has come under fire for its handling of Bountygate, Deflategate, and other scandals. However, the compensation committee, which has been trying to cut spending, would not authorize the creation of an expensive executive position like that, and there is nothing to indicate that anything will change in that regard, even if McKay were open to such a post (which he apparently was).
Freeman has already overcome a knee injury that forced him to miss several games earlier this season, and this week he was reportedly struggling through a foot injury. The organization wasn’t all that concerned with Freeman’s recent bone bruise, believing it’d only force him to miss a single game (if that). However, the groin issue is new, and Florio wonders how the running back could have suffered the injury if he wasn’t practicing.
This groin injury probably makes it even more unlikely that Freeman sees the field for this weekend’s contest against the Buccaneers. If Freeman can’t go, the Falcons will once again turn to a tandem of Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith.
Freeman rarely battled injury issues through the early part of his career, as he played in played in 47-of-48 games between 2014 and 2016. He missed a pair of games last season with a concussion, and he’s already missed three contests this season. In his two games this year, the 26-year-old has collected 68 rushing yards on 14 carries. He’s under contract through 2022 after inking a five-year, $41.25MM extension last August.
October 11th, 2018 at 6:55pm CST by Dallas Robinson
With nearly a third of the 2018 regular season in the books, it’s fair to start looking ahead to the 2019 draft, especially if you’re a fan of a team that’s not looking like a playoff team this year. Using Football Outsiders’ DVOA On the Clock report, let’s take a look at a few teams who could secure the No. 1 overall selection in 2019:
Arizona Cardinals (19.6% chance of No. 1 pick, 61.5% chance of top-five pick)
The Cardinals allowed the Sam Bradford experiment to last for the better part of three games before turning things over to rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, who has appeared competent thus far. David Johnson is an All-Pro talent at running back, but Arizona hasn’t been very creative in its use of him, and he’s faced eight or more defenders in the box on 33.78% of his attempts, 10th-most in the league. The Cardinals are still as a top-10 defense in terms of DVOA (meaning they’re efficient) despite ranking as a bottom-10 unit in both yards allowed and scoring, so continued success on that side of the ball could move Arizona away from the top overall pick.
San Francisco 49ers (18.6%, 59.8%)
The 49ers’ top quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo), running back (Jerick McKinnon) and wide receiver (Marquise Goodwin) have all been injured this year, and each health issue helped push the 49ers’ chances of earning the No. 1 pick upward. With C.J. Beathard now leading San Francisco’s offense, and Alfred Morris taking over in the backfield for the time being while Matt Breida deals with an ankle injury, it’s unclear how many points the 49ers will be able to muster the rest of the way. Pair those offensive problems with a defense that ranks just 26th in adjusted sack rate, and San Francisco could be in the market for a top-five selection in 2019.
It’s a good thing Jon Gruden landed a 10-year contract because his first season with the Raiders isn’t going as planned. Oakland’s defense is the slowest in the NFL (which perhaps isn’t a surprise given that the Raiders are fielding the league’s oldest roster), and the club’s offense has been hit-or-miss. After trading superstar Khalil Mack, Oakland ranks dead last in sacks and second-to-last in adjusted sack rate. And, as a bonus, the Raiders get to face Patrick Mahomes twice a year for the next decade.
New York Giants (8.1%, 37.1%)
The Giants are the only team in the NFL that has at least a 5% chance of securing the No. 1 overall pick and at least a 10% chance of making the postseason, per Football Outsiders. That’s largely due to the lackluster quality of the NFC East, where no team is over the .500 mark, and New York’s remaining schedule, which ranks as the easiest in the league. On the other hand, FiveThirtyEight currently projects the Giants to finish with the NFL’s worst record, so until the NFC East clarifies itself, New York’s outlook is ¯_(ツ)_/¯.
Atlanta Falcons (8%, 35.3%)
The one team on this list that would have been a complete surprise coming into 2018, the Falcons have been decimated on the defensive side of the ball. Starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, plus linebacker Deion Jones, are all out for the season after suffering injuries, and Atlanta’s defense has responded in kind, giving up the second-most points in the league on a per-game basis. Matt Ryan and the rest of the Falcons’ offense can still win shootouts, but Atlanta could be in line to pick within the top-five for the first time since 2008.
So, what do you think? Will one of these teams land the No. 1 overall pick in 2019? Vote below!
October 11th, 2018 at 5:50pm CST by Dallas Robinson
The Falcons aren’t as worried about Devonta Freeman‘s foot injury as they were about the knee injury he suffered earlier this year, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
Freeman is now dealing with a bone bruise, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com recently reported that the veteran running back’s status for Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers is in doubt. However, Graziano indicates that it’s “too soon to know” whether Freeman can suit up for Week 6. Either way, Atlanta isn’t concerned that Freeman is facing a long-term absence.
If Freeman can’t go, the Falcons will once again turn to a tandem of Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith. Tampa Bay, of course, is currently fielding on the league’s worst defenses, although it’s been much worse against the pass than the run. The Buccaneers rank 30th in passing DVOA to opposing running backs, so Coleman and Smith — both of whom are solid pass-catchers — could excel in that area on Sunday.
Injuries haven’t typically been a problem for Freeman: before missing two games with a concussion in 2017, he’d played in 47-of-48 games from 2014-16. Freeman, who topped 1,000 rushing yards and scored 11 rushing touchdowns in both 2015 and 2016, is under contract through 2022 after inking a five-year, $41.25MM extension last August.
October 10th, 2018 at 9:46pm CST by Dallas Robinson
The 1-4 Falcons could face the Buccaneers without running back Devonta Freeman, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Freeman, who missed three games with an MCL sprain, is actually dealing with a new injury, as Rapoport indicates it’s a bone bruise that’s threatening to keep Freeman out of Sunday’s action. While Freeman didn’t practice today, he did work on the side, although his status for Week 6 is “in doubt, per Rapoport. Without Freeman, Atlanta would deploy a Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith combination that was used in Weeks 2-5.
October 3rd, 2018 at 8:08pm CST by Dallas Robinson
Week 5 presents a good news/bad news situation for the Falcons, as running back Devonta Freeman is expected to return from a multi-game absence while defensive tackle Grady Jarrett will miss Sunday’s game against the Steelers with an ankle injury, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The 1-3 Falcons have scored plenty of points with Tevin Coleman filling in for Freeman, but the latter’s return will nonetheless add another dimension to an already potent offense. Jarrett, for his part, is one of the best players left on an Atlanta defense that has already lost safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal, plus linebacker Deion Jones, for the year. The Falcons rank as a bottom-six defense in yards allowed, scoring, and Football Outsiders’ DVOA.