Limited to two games this past season, Freeman seemed to be making progress late in the year and might've had a shot to play if the Falcons had reached the playoffs. Alas, they fell out of the hunt around Week 14/15, removing any chance for the running back to return from injured reserve after he had groin surgery in mid-October. With Tevin Coleman expected to find a new home in free agency, Freeman is locked in for the lead role under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who held the same position in Atlanta during Freeman's 2014 rookie campaign. Freeman will turn 27 in March and should be back to full strength for the start of the Falcons' offseason program in mid-April. He has four seasons remaining on a five-year, $41.25 million extension, though the structure of the deal could make him vulnerable next offseason if he disappoints in 2019.
Coach Dan Quinn confirmed Wednesday that Freeman (groin) wouldn't be activated from injured reserve ahead of either of the Falcons' final two games of 2018, Will McFadden of the team's official site reports.
With the 5-9 Falcons officially eliminated from playoff contention, there wouldn't be much upside to bringing Freeman back after an extended absence following surgery to address a core-muscle injury. Freeman, who had also been dealing with a foot injury prior to being shut down, will likely be back to full strength for OTAs and should have a clear path to the lead-back role in 2019 with impending free agent Tevin Coleman unlikely to be retained. Coleman should at least dominate the backfield snaps for the Falcons' last two games after the team elected to place his top complement, rookie Ito Smith (knee), on IR earlier this week.
Freeman (groin) isn't ready to practice and isn't expected to return this season, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.
There was some talk about Freeman wanting to return for the final two weeks, but it never felt realistic once the Falcons were eliminated from playoff contention. With Ito Smith (knee) set to join Freeman on injured reserve, Tevin Coleman could be busy over the final two weeks of the season, presumably auditioning for the lead role in a different backfield for 2019. Coleman is in the final season of his rookie contract, while Freeman's five-year, $41.25 million extension runs through 2022. The Falcons are left with Brian Hill as their No. 2 running back for Week 16 at Carolina.
Coach Dan Quinn said he gets the sense Freeman (groin) wants to return for Week 16 if he is deemed healthy enough to do so, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.
Freeman has been back in Atlanta with his teammates since the first week of December, but it's hard to see how he could be cleared for Week 16 given that he still hasn't participated in practice. While a Week 17 appearance sounds somewhat more reasonable, there isn't much to be gained from subjecting a rusty veteran running back to live hits in a meaningless game. Freeman probably won't be tasked with a large workload if he does make it back this season.
Coach Dan Quinn said Friday that Freeman (groin) remains a candidate to return from injured reserve this season, Jason Butt of The Athletic reports.
The Falcons placed Freeman on injured reserve back on Oct. 16 after it was revealed that he would require surgery to address a lingering groin injury. Freeman, who had been away from the team for much of the past two months while conducting his rehab in Philadelphia, is now back in Atlanta and is being evaluated on a week-to-week basis, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Freeman is eligible to return from IR ahead of Week 15, but with the running back having yet to resume practicing yet, a return over the final two weeks of the regular season is probably a more realistic goal. Even that might be overly ambitious, given that the Falcons are 4-8 and may not be inclined to bring back Freeman if a playoff bid isn't in reach.
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