With Steven Jackson's hamstring injury, the door appears to be wide open for Devonta Freeman. As Dave pointed out earlier today, it's very possible that he will take the majority of the preseason snaps at running back. And for what it's worth, he's already getting rave reviews from Matt Ryan (credit goes to the AJC for the quote).
"He's done a nice job. He's got a lot to learn. Every rookie has a lot on their plate. But specifically, that running back position is tough because you're asked to do so much in the run game. But then also, you're heavily involved in the pass game in terms of your routes and your protection is key. Especially with Devonta, he catches the ball so well out of the backfield. I could see his role being one where he's in there in passing situations. He's got some things to learn in pass protection. When you see him in space, I mean, he's really really talented."
In short, while Ryan doesn't want to say that Jackson is on his way out and Freeman is the new toy, that's exactly what's happening here. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe Jackson will be a contributing member of the Falcons this year. I've gone on record arguing he's still got plenty left in the tank. But with yet another injury that will potentially nag and nag, I'm having my doubts. If anything, Freeman's fantasy football status just took a huge jump.
For Freeman, this is just an opportunity. If he performs, the Falcons will have a hard time limiting his snaps as the season goes on, even if Jackson is healthy. In short yardage, Jackson will remain the superior option, but today may mark the turning point. The point where the meter swung in Freeman's direction, just enough to make him the feature back.
Granted, training camp just began less than a week ago. Freeman still has to contend with a healthy Jacquizz Rodgers, and let's be honest, a healthy Jackson is tough to take off the field. But tell me you're not picturing Freeman, covered in blue face paint, angrily screaming about someone taking his liberty and then kicking all kinds of butt.