Antone Smith is a man possessed lately. He's managed 145 yards on just 5 carries, scoring twice in the process. Those numbers sharply juxtapose his career numbers as a running back. As we all know, before this season, he had logged only one carry in the NFL, good for negative 3 yards.
While Smith's successes as a special teamer are well documented, his rushing prowess is a pleasant surprise. I'd imagine it's a surprise for the Falcons as well. If it weren't, he'd have had the opportunity to play running back much sooner. With that said, don't look at Smith's numbers this year as anything more than an anomaly.
First, while the Falcons have said they'll try to get him carries, Smith is still the number 4 running back on the Falcons' depth chart. To that effect, 5 carries do not a career make. Jason Snelling is a known commodity, and we all know how much the Falcons love their known commodities. Meanwhile, Snelling has only accounted for 34 carries this year, with Jacquizz Rodgers and Steven Jackson accounting for the remaining 180. Put simply, there aren't a lot of carries to be had. Smith is basically looking to take Snelling's carries. Because the Falcons don't exactly distrust Snelling, that won't be easy.
Second, Smith has been in camp and at practice for 4 years now. Let's be honest, 4 years is a long time, and in that time, the Falcons have had plenty of chances to evaluate him. They didn't feel he was worthy of additional carries sooner; there's a reason for that. I'm not intimately familiar with that reason, but I know it's there, kinda like Dave's slim chances to maintain sobriety.
Third, Mike Smith hates bunnies. Furry and cute bunnies.
Admittedly, there's a chance the Falcons release Snelling in the off-season. He represents significantly less dead money in 2014. The Falcons wouldn't be financially unwise to cut ties with him. All that said, Jackson will be on the wrong side of 30 by the time next season begins. The Falcons may prefer Snelling as a compliment to Rodgers should Jackson struggle to stay healthy again.
In short, it doesn't look good for Smith. I don't think you can accurately judge a player's ability with such a small sample size, but I'd be lying if I said I'm not happy for him. It does seem, however, that the cards are stacked against him. I'm sure the Falcons will keep him around, and he may pick up 10-15 carries as a 4th running back while continuing to contribute on special teams. But he's not going to all-of-a-sudden leapfrog his way up the running back depth chart. He just isn't.