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Falcons expecting ‘significant’ jump from Ito Smith in second NFL season

Rookie running again Ito Smith performed far more in 2018 than the Atlanta Falcons anticipated when they selected the previous McGill-Toolen standout in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. And which is elevated Falcons coach Dan Quinn’s expectations for Smith in his next year.

Smith expended most of his initial NFL year backing up Tevin Coleman, who stepped into Atlanta’s lineup when two-time Professional Bowler Devonta Freeman performed in only two online games prior to possessing year-ending groin medical procedures.

Smith ran for 315 yards and four touchdowns on 90 carries and caught 27 passes for 152 yards prior to a knee injury ended his year with two online games remaining. Smith took 311 snaps with the Falcons’ offense in 14 online games.

“He undoubtedly took on a more substantial purpose this year owing to the accidents that took position with Devonta, and I thought he responded for us,” Quinn explained during his push conference at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He’s obtained great fingers out of the backfield, and in our offense, which is a huge part of what we do. He undoubtedly has the skill to adjust instructions, so I would get in touch with him a slasher as a runner. He can get by the line of scrimmage and then break you off laterally. He’s obtained an great spin to him. So a mature man and seriously picked up our technique immediately. When you’re actively playing a zone technique, you better discover your tracks and how to go.

“I would say I am anticipating his raise getting substantial as in many cases players go from Calendar year 1 to Calendar year 2. I would surely place him into that group.”

The Falcons expect Freeman to be completely ready to rebound in 2019.

“He’s performing effectively,” Quinn explained. “I’m psyched to get him again in the blend. He’s a element in the operate recreation, for confident, centered on his slashing style, but he’s also a seriously excellent receiver. He’s 1 of those fellas who has a lot to establish, and heading into the year, which is a excellent matter. (I explained to him) his missing year, make it make any difference.”

Freeman will be in the third year of a five-year, $41.25 million agreement, which helps make it not likely Coleman will be again with the Falcons in 2019.

Coleman will be an unrestricted totally free agent on March 13 after he ran for 800 yards and four touchdowns on 167 carries and caught 32 passes for 276 yards and five touchdowns in reduction of Freeman in 2018.

“Tevin Coleman, he’s a seriously excellent football participant and he did some fantastic points for us this year, we really feel,” Falcons typical supervisor Thomas Dimitroff explained. “Of study course, it is never ever effortless to signal another person like Free of charge, like we did previous year, and have two running backs that are going to be in the current market at a significant level cash-wise.”

Coleman’s expected departure would keep Smith in the No. 2 spot on the depth chart — this time driving Freeman — but Quinn explained the previous Cell prep star wouldn’t immediately inherit the career from Coleman.

“He undoubtedly has proven that he’s able of it,” Quinn explained. “But if that will take position, there will surely be other fellas that we place into the blend to contend with him.”

Smith had arthroscopic medical procedures on Dec. 19 to maintenance meniscus hurt in his left knee. The Falcons expect him to be completely ready when the group commences its offseason system up coming thirty day period.

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Mark Inabinett is a sports activities reporter for Alabama Media Group. Comply with him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.

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