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Falcons Roster Review: Terron Ward is the third man

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons came out of the 2014 season with Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith. They came into 2015 with just one of those backs, and the biggest surprise of all was the man they selected to be the third back. That would be undrafted free agent Terron Ward, who was about as good as you can reasonably expected a rookie third back to be.

Active and Involved

The 23-year-old Ward survived camp battles galore and some injuries to other players to stick on the roster. His plodding power style made him unique on this depth chart, and Kyle Shanahan talked about trusting him in the backfield. Thanks primarily to injury, Ward was active in 13 games, carrying the ball 29 times for 95 yards and a touchdown, catching one nine yard pass, and committing at least one egregious penalty along the way. Those are pedestrian numbers and Ward largely looked like a pedestrian runner...but again, he was an undrafted free agent getting in game action, and he was neither horrible in pass protection nor a total lost cause as a runner. There may be something to build on, here.

Of course, given the two men in front of him, Ward isn't likely to rise up any further on the depth chart. With a second year in the system, though, he may have a little job security.

Contract

Ward is signed through 2017, costs virtually nothing if the Falcons elect to cut ties with him, and will count just $525,000 against the cap in 2016. In other words, his contract presents an attractive case for keeping him and offers up little argument against cutting him, depending on which way the team is leaning.

2016 Outlook

The Falcons aren't likely to prioritize running back with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman both in the fold,  so Ward seems like a decent bet to return. His primary competition is likely to be either a late round rookie, someone from the next class of UDFAs, or practice squad player Gus Johnson, who looked like the better runner during a preseason stint in Dallas and has been signed to a futures contract. I'd give him a better than 50% chance of coming back, but he won't be good for more than 35-50 touches and special teams work in 2016 if he's in Atlanta.