Widely respected Falcons running backs coach Bobby Turner hopes to decrease Devonta Freeman’s carries in 2016, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
“It’s about growth,” Turner told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Free had a good year, but I’m expecting even a better year. Well, you’re saying, how can it be better? It can be even better with less carries or less catches because I’d obviously like to get Tevin (Coleman) more involved and that also keeps Free fresher.”
Freeman, who went to the Pro Bowl, rushed for 1,056 yards on 265 carries and scored 11 rushing touchdowns last season. He also caught 73 passes for 578 yards and three touchdowns.
Coleman, who was drafted it the third-round (73rd overall) of the 2015 draft out of Indiana, opened last season as the starting running back and got off to a promising start before suffering fractured ribs in the second game. While out, Freeman took over the position.
Despite Freeman’s success, the Falcons still have high hopes for Coleman, who was electrifying in the open field. However, he also had ball security issues.
Coleman played in 12 games and made three starts. He rushed for 392 yards on 87 carries (4.5 yards per carry) and scored one touchdown. He had just two catches for 14 yards and was credited with three fumbles.
Coleman’s rookie season was cut short after he slipped in the shower and suffered a concussion, causing him to miss the final two games of the regular season.
“We want them competing,” Turner said. “They are very similar. They both are competitive. They both can catch the football. They both have run instincts. When it comes down to it, the one difference is the flat out long speed of Tevin Coleman.”
It would be smart to have less of a workload for Freeman, who is a heck of a back and the team truly needs to keep him healthy and on the field as much as they can in 2016 if they are going compete in the division.