Devonta Freeman is no one’s idea of an old-timer, given that he’s just 26 years old. He’s still likely to be the senior member of the Falcons running back group this year, however, and he seems plenty qualified to comment on how the team’s incoming rookie class looks.
The good news is that Freeman feels as good about the rookies as Dan Quinn appears to, bringing early praise for the likes of running back Ito Smith and receivers Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage.
The young guys are fitting right into the Brotherhood. pic.twitter.com/QOBIlmuwa7— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) June 16, 2018
On one hand, you’d be correct in thinking that this is the sort of quote and story that only matters because we’re in the dead of the offseason. On the other hand, this is a group worth getting excited about, and it’s significant that players are noticing how well they’re adapting early on. Ridley is slated for a legitimate role in the passing game, while Smith and Gage figure to be plus special teamers with the ability to carve out some snaps for themselves on offense. Smith, in particular, might wind up being Freeman’s direct backup a year from now, so it’s going to be great if he hits the ground running.
I’m hopeful that the rookies won’t need to contribute too much—outside of Ridley, they’re only going to play a lot if someone gets hurt—but it would be an excellent bonus if Smith, Gage, and any rookie UDFAs fighting for roster spots were ready to contribute. Let’s hope Freeman’s early glowing praise is a harbinger of things to come.