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1404139163
Devonta Freeman to push Steven Jackson?
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer

Steven Jackson is fully expected to begin the season as the Falcons' primary rusher, but ESPN has seen enough from rookie running back Devonta Freeman to believe that he'll push Jackson enough to make it a camp battle worth watching

Per ESPN, Freeman was drafted with the intention of eventually being a three-down player for the Falcons. But "[i]f he looks as good in pads as he did in shorts, Jackson might have a battle on his hands." 

Jackson will turn 31 before the start of the season and has well over 2,500 career carries. 

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1401804508
'No sweeping changes' to Falcons run game
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer

The Falcons' official team website reports that there will be "no sweeping changes" to the team's run game after finishing 32nd in the league in rush yards in 2013. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said there wouldn't be an uptick or a downswing in the number of run plays he calls. Instead, he's expecting new players on the O-line and in the backfield to mesh with the old strategy. 

"We're going to be a better running football team, starting with the offensive line and progressing throughout the team," Koetter said. "We'll be more committed to it."

Steven Jackson is expected to be the starter with rookie Devonta Freeman and vet Jacquizz Rodgers behind him. After having a down year that included missing time with an injury, he says he'll be ready. 

"I've always prided myself on being able to go stronger through the game," he said. "With having favorable boxes, which I anticipate, I think we'll be quite OK."

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1396013822
Falcons still like big back Steven Jackson
by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer

Falcons coach Mike Smith admitted that the running back position was going through a transition "in terms of value." But speaking at the NFL Owners Meeting this week in Orlando, Smith still believes it's important to have a big, physical back, which he has in Steven Jackson

"You've got to be able to run the football and run the football when everybody knows that you're going to do that," Smith said. "And when you're in that situation you've got to have a big back. We felt that Steven was the type of running back that we were looking for. Unfortunately Steven was injured last year and we really didn't get a chance to see what he was capable of doing until the last four or five games. But you've got to have a big back when you've got to get two or three yards or you've got to change your gameplan based on weather, especially late in the season, and you've got to be able to run the football."

Jackson finished last year with 543 yards on 157 carries (3.5 avg.) with six touchdowns in 12 games. He added 33 grabs for 191 yards and another score. 

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1392915520
Mike Smith: We'll see the real S-Jax in 2014
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com

Falcons coach Mike Smith said an early-season hamstring pull prevented running back Steven Jackson from showing his full talent in 2013. Smith expects a much better running game, bolstered by a stronger offensive line, in 2014.

"I don't think we really got a chance to see what Steven was capable of doing until the last three or four games," Smith said.

Jackson, who turns 31 in July, averaged a career-low 3.5 yards per carry but scored six touchdowns over the final six games.

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1390343411
Falcons' OC plans bigger commitment to run game, S-Jax
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com

The Falcons threw 659 times and ran the ball 321 times in 2013. Playing from behind wasn't the only reason for the imbalance, according to offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who wants to reduce the disparity significantly.

“We’ve got to commit to the run game a little bit more. That’s something that I can definitely help with,” Koetter told the team's website. “We’ve also got to do a better job of executing in the run game. I don’t feel like we ever really gave Steven Jackson a great chance to get going last year.

“He got hurt in that second game, missed three or four games until he came back. We’ve just got to commit to running the ball more, give it to Steven and that’ll help us get better fast.”

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