You have to feel for Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman. Knowing Steven Jackson was headed out to pasture, Freeman probably felt pretty good early in the offseason. There was also some uncertainty about Antone Smith's recovery. But after the Falcons drafted Tevin Coleman and Smith recovered like James Howlett, the landscape changed.
Now Oregon State product Terron Ward is emerging as a sort of Michael Turner version 2.0. Credit to the man, the myth, the legend, Andrew Hirsh, for the quote.
Although the offense as a whole fared poorly, Terron Ward — an undrafted running back out of Oregon State — continued to make noise. By displaying strong hands and running with power, the 23-year-old has shown he can be a versatile asset if needed. And that's exactly what he did as an injured
Tevin Colemanwatched practice from the sidelines. The Falcons have done a good job signing talented undrafted rookies in recent years, and Ward is starting to look like another potential steal.
This is a good problem to have. It's a problem Jeanna Thomas warned us about three days ago. (Side note: you should always heed Jeanna's warnings - she predicted Dave Choate's recent relapse, so I'm fairly certain homegirl's a lairvoyant.) So where do we stand? Well, at this point, both Coleman and Freeman look, at worst, capable. We know Smith is a perpetual home run threat. And Ward is the Falcons' latest diamond in the rough.
Ward could, of course, find himself on the practice squad. Easy solution, no? Meh. Sure, it's an option, but it's a risky option. Any other team could sign him if he's placed on the practice squad; they just have to add him to their active roster. Given how often running backs are injured in the NFL, a talented practice squad running back will land on an active roster sooner rather than later.
All this assumes Ward continues to impress when the actual games start. Maybe he is just another camp love story, a la Bernard Reedy in 2014. But I'll say this: he's doing everything possible to impress all the right people. What Ward will do with whatever touches he gets in the preseason remains to be seen. That's what really matters.
So what do you think? Assuming Ward continues on this trajectory, would the Falcons consider carrying four running backs? Discuss!