The 2019 season will determine whether or not the Atlanta Falcons have recovered from the injuries that decimated their starting rotation on both sides of the ball.
Among those players returning from injury is starting running back Devonta Freeman, who was back in place behind center when the team opened their training camp this week.
The Falcons not only expect that Freeman will reprise his production running the ball, but perhaps more importantly, the attitude he brings to the game and his teammates.
“I think during his injury, what can happen sometimes, is the joy can get taken,” Falcons head coach Dan Quinn told the team’s website.
“The injury is not only physical, its mental. So where does the hunger to go, to push, to come back? It’s a lot like some fire to fuel you, but it’s not an easy process. The work that he put in, the closer he got back to playing again, the joy of that came back a little bit again. On to the field, the energy that he brings is pretty contagious. Having him back out was a big deal.”
Freeman initially hurt his knee in the Falcons’ regular season opener against Philadelphia in early September, the league’s nationally televised Kickoff Game to begin the 2018 season.
Injured again in the team’s Week 5 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Freeman had an MRI examination on the groin area and was told by doctors that he would require surgery to repair the injury. The original report indicated that Freeman would require six weeks’ time to recover.
Ultimately, he landed on the injured reserve list instead.
Freeman has given the Falcons attitude at the running back position with his physical, determined style of play, but that approach has also resulted in injuries.
In the past two seasons since signing a five year, $41.25 million contract, Freeman has dealt with two head injuries and two knee ailments in addition to the groin problem.
Whether or not the Falcons can get back to the playoffs will be determined, in some part, on his ability to maintain his punishing brand of play, minus those injuries it tends to produce.