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Devonta Freeman’s second concussion of the year leaves his status in doubt

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One of the game’s most physical backs is going to be out a while.

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

If you want to understand just how cruel and random this game can be for those who play it, consider Devonta Freeman. With a fresh contract extension under his belt and his youth still on his side, Free has suffered two concussions in a short span this year, and you have to wonder what it means for his season. As several NFL reports have noted, he’s likely to miss at least a couple of weeks, if not more, and almost certainly will not be back for Monday Night Football against the Seahawks.

If the team is at all worried about Freeman’s long-term health—and they ought to be—they’ll have to consider putting him on the shelf for the rest of the year. They won’t want to, because Freeman is truly one of the league’s great backs and integral part of the offense, but you can’t put his career in jeopardy. You’ll hope that Freeman and the Falcons will weigh many, many factors in determining when he’s going to get back on the field again.

It gets worse. The PanthersThomas Davis alleges that Freeman actually suffered a concussion against Carolina last week. If true, either Freeman was somehow able to hide it from the the team, the team chose to ignore it, or both, and the team could be facing some heavy fines for screwing around with a player’s head injury. The fines are significantly less important than what a head-to-head hit might have done to Freeman is he was already suffering the effects of a concussion, however. I’m hopeful for many reasons that Davis is wrong.

Ultimately, I expect Freeman will clear the concussion protocol in a couple of weeks, and the team will need to make a decision on whether he’s well and truly healthy or not. I genuinely worry, and I’m grateful that the Falcons have a capable feature back in Tevin Coleman, plus two solid backs with upside behind him in Terron Ward and Brian Hill. They may need all three, but the most important thing at the end of all of this is that Freeman is as well and truly healthy as he can be, and that is the thing that will be toughest for the Falcons to ensure.