Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith explained the absence from today’s practice of running back Steven Jackson due to the latter suffering a hamstring injury. Smith indicated that Jackson is expected to be ready to return for the Falcons season-opener Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints five weeks from now. Smith also indicated that Jackson’s hamstring injury is to his left hamstring rather than the right one that held him out for the better part of five games last season.
In Jackson’s absence, running backs Devonta Freeman and Jacquizz Rodgers are expected to step up and fill in. Rodgers has served as the team’s top reserve running back for the past three years and could earn the brunt of starters’ snaps the rest of the summer. But Freeman has been impressed by all accounts through the first few days of his first NFL training camp. Given the lack of size in both Freeman and Rodgers, Jackson’s absence may also increase the chances that either Josh Vaughan or Jerome Smith stick as reserves, since both are bigger backs that can potentially do more to replace the physical element lost from Jackson’s injury.