Falcons star Devonta Freeman headed to injured reserve as injuries pile up in Atlanta

A Falcons roster that has been devastated by injuries this year has just taken another hit. 

The team announced on Tuesday that running back Devonta Freeman will be placed on injured reserve. The move comes as somewhat of a surprise and that's because Falcons coach Dan Quinn gave no indication that Freeman might miss an extended amount of time. Quinn met with the media on Monday and said that Freeman would "likely" miss the team's Week 7 game against the Giants

"Freeman's still dealing with a groin from the Pittsburgh game," Quinn said, via ESPN.com. "That will likely knock him out this week."

Quinn clarified on Tuesday that the injury was worse than originally thought and that Freeman would have to undergo surgery. 

"Following the game against Pittsburgh, where Devonta injured his foot, we thought he was just having general soreness in his groin area," Quinn said. "As the week went on it continued so we decided to have him get some tests. It has been determined that he will need a procedure that will result in us placing him on injured reserve. We are hopeful he will be able to return this season, but we will have a better feel for that in the coming weeks."

The decision to put Freeman on injured reserve will almost certainly end his season, although there's a chance that he could return to the team in late December, a move that the Falcons would likely only make if they're still in contention. 

Freeman has been battling injuries all year. In the Falcons' opener against the Eagles, the running back suffered a knee injury that ended up sidelining him for three weeks. The 26-year-old then returned in Week 5, only to suffer multiple injuries (groin, foot) in a 41-17 loss to the Steelers. Due to those two injuries, Freeman sat out of Atlanta's 34-29 win over the Buccaneers on Sunday. 

One of the reasons the Falcons might have been comfortable making the decision to put Freeman on IR is because they have two talented backs who can pick up the load in Tevin Coleman and rookie Ito Smith. Smith set a Falcons' record on Sunday when he became the first rookie in team history to rush for a touchdown in three consecutive games. 

With Freeman headed to injured reserve, the Falcons now have roughly half their roster on IR. Freeman will join guard Andy Levitre, safety Ricardo Allen, safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones as starters who have been placed on injured reserve this year. 

Freeman's 2018 season will end with just 14 carries for 68 yards over two games. Freeman signed a five-year extension with the Falcons in 2017 that ties him to the team through the 2022 season, although the Falcons could get out of his deal following the 2019 season at a price that won't kill the team's salary cap. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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