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Falcons’ promising rookie RB Ito Smith heads to IR with knee injury

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Smith’s year ends with two weeks to go.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons will see yet another vital cog in its 2018 operation temporarily fall to the wayside.

The team announced Monday that rookie RB Ito Smith will be heading to injured reserve with a knee injury.

Smith will finish 2018 with 315 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games, encouraging for a fourth-round pick who was expected to be buried on the depth chart behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.

Coleman will be the main guy the rest of the way out now, with Smith practically sharing starting reps with the 2015 third-round pick out of Indiana. 2017 fifth-rounder Brian Hill will also likely get some looks. He’s a player who is trying to etch out a place on the team’s roster going ahead.

It’s likely Jeremy Langford, a young journeyman and former Bears draft pick, will get called up off the practice squad for depth.

It’s a tough blow for an offense that seemed to be finding itself a bit against a paltry Cardinals opponent, though these were two of the league’s worst teams playing.

Smith also had 152 yards in the air, as he began to get reps in the passing game as the season went on and the coaching staff developed more trust in his general abilities. He will be a key piece of this offense for the next few seasons, with Freeman assumed to return to starting duties once he’s healthy and Coleman a good bet to reach free agency.

It’s great for the Falcons that Smith showed such promise. Let’s hope that knee heals up quickly and that he’s healthy and ready for the offseason program.

It looks, per Conway, as if he’ll have some sort of medical action taken on the knee.

No corresponding move has been announced just yet.