Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Tevin Coleman's ill-timed rib injury didn't cause Devonta Freeman to break out. Freeman always had this in him, he just needed some solid blocking and an opportunity. But the emergence of Freeman has benefited Coleman in a way. It's provided him with a healthy dose of humility, an opportunity to sit back, observe, and learn.
Coleman learned the hard way why it's so important to keep two hands on the ball when breaking tackles Thursday night. A promising run became a turnover - not what the Falcons needed at the time. But there was Freeman, ready to encourage his so-called "rival." Credit to The Mothership's Kelsey Conway, who wrote that great piece about Freeman's leadership. Read it if you haven't already.
Following the play, Coleman was given some guidance from someone who knew what he was feeling and thinking, more than anyone else. "I just let him know to keep his head up," Freeman said to Coleman. "You are a great athlete, this doesn't determine anything. Just get better from it and learn from it."
Coleman probably needed this opportunity. It's a lot to jump from college football to the NFL, and immediate success is rare. A lot was made of the "camp battle" between Coleman and Freeman, with both men talking smack in off-season interviews. At the end of the day, they're teammates. They have the same bottom line, the same goal: win by any means necessary. Look, they wouldn't be running backs if there wasn't ego involved. But this relationship is starting to look a lot more symbiotic as time goes on.