Atlanta figures to have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL this year, thanks to strong run blocking and a trio of capable backs in Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, and Cordarrelle Patterson. Those are all huge positives, and it’s impossible not to look forward to this season with visions of over 2,000 yards rushing dancing in your head.
That said, it is only July and depth issues are starting to crop up at running back owing to injuries. When you already have three capable players atop your depth chart that’s not exactly fatal, but the team has special teams standout Avery Williams on injured reserve, 2022 practice squad player B.J. Baylor parked there as well, and now bruising back Caleb Huntley hitting the physically unable to perform list for the moment.
This was an expected outcome for Huntley, who suffered an Achilles injury last year, and it could mean he’ll just miss the start of training camp or that he’ll be out the first four games of the season if he’s still on PUP in Week 1. After exploding on to the scene last year with a brilliant stretch of games and finishing an injury-truncated 2022 with 336 yards and a tidy 4.9 yards per carry average, Huntley proved his considerable worth to this team should injuries or fatigue crop up.
At the moment, with Huntley, Baylor, and Williams all out of the picture, the sole depth option on the roster is rookie undrafted free agent Carlos Washington. In a college career split behind New Hampshire and Southeastern Louisiana, Washington average 4.9 yards per carry and scored 25 touchdowns combined between the ground and air, and offers a physical running style that should give him a good chance of at least making the practice squad. Still, the Falcons may well want to add another running back if Huntley is going to be on the shelf for a while, especially if Patterson is going to play sparingly this summer as I’d expect.
We’ll hope to see Huntley again sooner than later, because he should be on this roster and figures to still have value for the Falcons even with all their options.