Quinn still hopes run­ning back Free­man will re­turn

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - NFL - By D. Or­lando Led­bet­ter dled­bet­[email protected]

FLOW­ERY BRANCH — Fal­cons run­ning back Devonta Free­man, who had sports her­nia/ core surgery Oct. 18, was an on­looker at prac­tice Fri­day.

“He did weeks of the re­hab in Philadel­phia,” Fal­cons coach Dan Quinn said. “He’s back and do­ing well. We are just go­ing to take it week by week and see where he can progress to. He isn’t able to prac­tice yet. We are liter- ally tak­ing it to where it is all of the work that you can put in. Each few days, we’ll meet and see where he’s at.”

Cur­rently, the Fal­cons rank last in the NFL in rush­ing, av­er­ag­ing 79 yards.

“Def­i­nitely,” Quinn said when asked if he hoped Free- man would re­turn. “We are not rul­ing any­thing out for sure. He’s def­i­nitely made a lot of progress. That’s like all of the guys, we are go­ing to make sure that he can do it.”

Free­man had surgery at the Vin­cera In­sti­tute. Wil­liam C. Mey­ers, one of the lead­ers in core/sports her­nia in­jury surgery, founded the in­sti­tute.

The Fal­cons placed Free- man on in­jured re­serve Oct. 16, with a hope he could re­turn later in the sea­son.

The ear­li­est Free­man could re­turn is Week 16 against Car­olina. Re­cov­ery from core/sports her­nia surgery usu­ally takes four to six weeks.

Free­man played in the sea­son opener and suf­fered what was re­ported as a knee bruise against the Ea­gles. He missed the next three games be­fore play­ing against the Steel­ers. He rushed eight times for 32 yards but didn’t look ex­plo­sive on a 20-yard run af­ter he got in the open field.

Af­ter the Pitts­burgh game, Free­man got an MRI that re­vealed the tear in the core area.

The rush­ing at­tack has strug­gled as Free­man, the team’s lead­ing rusher each of the past three years, has been in­jured.

Run­ning backs Tevin Cole­man and rookie Ito Smith have taken over most of the car­ries but have been inef- fec­tive mostly be­cause of poor run block­ing.

Af­ter sign­ing a six-year, $43 mil­lion con­tract in Au­gust 2017, this is the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son Free­man has missed time with in­juries. He also missed two games in 2017 with a con­cus­sion be­fore suf­fer­ing a knee in­jury in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale against Car­olina.

In his two games this sea­son, Free­man, a two-time Pro Bowl se­lec­tion, rushed 14 times for 68 yards and caught five passes for 23 yards.

Devonta Free­man had sports her­nia/core surgery Oct. 18.

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