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Ito Smith is primed for some big weeks for Atlanta

The rookie running back has shown genuine talent, and his life might get easier soon.

Cincinnati Bengals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Ito Smith isn’t the flashiest rookie running back, or necessarily the best. Yet he’s shown tremendous value for the Atlanta Falcons already as a fourth rounder, and the best is yet to come.

Why do I sound so confident about that? Here’s why.

Before you roll your eyes to the heavens at another new stat you haven’t seen before, let’s just consider the implications of this thread. You should read it in full, because what it implies is that Ito Smith has been astonishingly unlucky in terms of his blocking up front, while Coleman has been less unlucky.

This jibes with what we see with our eyes, which is that neither back is getting the blocking they need to excel. Watching Smith on runs where he does have room to operate, you can see how physical and shifty he can be, as was the case for his first score of the year. It’s worth noting that Smith had a nose for the end zone in college, too, as he once scored in 15 straight games.

Smith is not Devonta Freeman, but the highest praise I can give him is that he shows the kind of all-around game and vision that impressed me so much when I saw Freeman in training camp as a rookie. If he’s done this well without the line blocking effectively for him, and against some solid run defenses, he should be in store for better the rest of the way. It’s not like the Falcons will hesitate to use him.

The Falcons can find all sorts of smart, useful ways to use Tevin Coleman, who is and will remain a stellar weapon for this offense. With Smith, though, it’s as simple as blocking better for him and letting him run like we all know he can.