The departure of Tevin Coleman has assured that in 2019, Devonta Freeman will be expected to carry the load at running back. While he’ll undoubtedly share snaps with guys like Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison, Devonta figures to be the primary guy the team turns to. Given that, here is our biggest fear and hope for Freeman in 2019.
Stay. Healthy. While this can be said of any player in the NFL, it is especially true for Devonta. He’s coming off a season in which he only played a little a game and a quarter before being sidelined on IR. While he played 14 games in 2017, his effectiveness declined dramatically in the back half of the season due to nagging injuries and a concussion.
Yet, when he has been healthy, he’s been very, very good. He average 4.0, 4.8 and 4.4 yards per carry between 2015 and 2017 and he’s a reliable receiving threat out of the backfield. It’s almost a foregone conclusion that he’ll play well if he stays healthy. If he can make it for 15 or even 16 games, Devonta is more than capable of putting up 1000 yards on the ground and getting to his third Pro Bowl.
On the flip side, Freeman has been hampered by injuries the past two years. He’s only 27 years old, so he should have plenty of good years left, but the concussions he’s had the past two seasons are a little more frequent than you’d like to see. He can be a violent runner, so our fear is his running style is going to make him more susceptible to concussions and result not only in lost games, but the potential to cut his career short if he has too many of them in a short time frame.
The reality is that he’s only had one season where he started all 16 games (2016), so there’s an unfortunate history we have to be mindful of.
What are your biggest hopes and fears for Devonta in 2019?