Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said it’s “too early to say” if rookie Devonta Freeman can carry the load as a featured running back but Koetter likes his potential.
“Devonta is coming along fine,” Koetter said Friday. “He runs hard, is eager , is willing, does not back down from anything. He can catch the ball, strong hands, fast. He’s got all of the qualities. It’s just he’s a rookie in the NFL and he’s going to go through some growing pains.”
Freeman will have to prove he can be a reliable pass blocker. The report on Freeman coming out of college was that he was good in that area but Koetter said he’s been just “OK” so far in pass protection with the Falcons.
“I think that’s the biggest adjustment for a running back going from college to the NFL,” Koetter said. “He had a great college career but teams try to test rookie running backs. They’ve got those big outside linebackers. There’s a lot of protections, there’s a lot of calls. There’s a learning curve. He’s on the right track.”
If Freeman can't prove trustworthy in pass protection, he's going to have a tough time getting on the field since the team has so much invested in Matt Ryan and the passing game. Freeman's ADP has shot up since Steven Jackson's injury, but there's a good chance he'll continue to play behind Jacquizz Rodgers until he proves himself in pass pro.