Atlanta Falcons running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have both suffered hamstring strains in the early days of training camp and could miss up to a month’s time recovering from the injuries according to various sources. Blogging Dirty’s Colin Hubbard first mentioned the possibility of the pair of backs missing between two and four weeks, which was followed up by the AJC‘s own D. Orlando Ledbetter citing a sports doctor that indicated their mild versions of strains could put them out for the same amount of time.
Such absences could have a significant impact on the outcome of the Falcons’ positional battle for the starting running back with Freeman and Coleman being the primary candidates. A two-week absence would mean that both would potentially miss the first two preseason games, scheduled for August 14 and 21 against the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets, respectively. A four-week absence would equal both missing the entire preseason, including August 29 and September 3 games against the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens, respectively.
The third preseason game is often considered the most important given that the team’s starters get their most extensive playing time. That game against the Dolphins could be the final litmus test to determining which of the two Falcons running backs would open the regular season as the starting tailback.
In their absence, Terron Ward and Antone Smith would seemingly be getting more opportunities to work with the first-team offense, but neither at least going into the summer were considered potential starters. Ward has impressed early in camp, but is an undrafted rookie free agent. Both Ward and Smith are the two smallest backs on the roster.
While it’s speculation since the Falcons have yet to be specific with a prognosis and expected return date for both running backs, it would be very telling if the Falcons added another running back to the roster in the mean time. That would definitely be indicative that one or both players are expected to miss multiple weeks recovering.