FLOWERY BRANCH – Before diving into the final draft stretch run, Falcons coach Dan Quinn shared some thoughts with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about six players he’s counting on to elevate their games in 2016.
He wants them to slide from being role players to becoming major contributors. The group includes defensive end/linebacker Vic Beasley, cornerback Jalen Collins, running back Tevin Coleman, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, wide receiver Justin Hardy and free safety Robenson Therezie.
Today we’ll look at Coleman, who was drafted it the third-round (73rd overall) of the 2015 draft out of Indiana.
Coleman opened the season as the starting running back and got off to a promising start before suffering fractured ribs in the second game of the season. While out, Devonta Freeman took over the position and turned in a Pro Bowl campaign.
Despite Freeman’s success, the Falcons still have high hopes for Coleman, who was electrifying in the open field. However, he also had ball security issues.
Coleman played in 12 games and made three starts. He rushed for 392 yards on 87 carries (4.5 yards per carry) and scored one touchdown. He had just two catches for 14 yards and was credited with three fumbles.
Coleman’s rookie season was cut short after he slipped in the shower and suffered a concussion, causing him to miss the final two games of the regular season.
“For him, prove you can be available,” Quinn said. “He had the hamstring issue, concussion at the end. He broke a rib. He’s a grit competitor.”
The Falcons believe that Coleman and Freeman can split the rushing load in their outside-zone rushing system.
“In terms of him like running in the outside zone, seeing his reads and making his cuts, he was really on point,” Quinn said. “That’s why we are so excited because he and Free together make a pretty unique combination.”
Freeman will get the third down plays because he’s such a force in the passing game. But Coleman, with his dazzling speed, can earn more time on first and second downs. His 46-yard run against the Vikings was the longest of the season for the Falcons in 2015, but he was stripped at the end of the play by Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr.
He rushed 18 times for a season-high 110 yards against the Vikings on Nov. 29.
“His downhill and the speed that he goes,” Quinn said are Coleman’s main assets. “Free is different, where some of the damage that Freeman does is when he catches (passes). He can also be used as a receiver at times, because he’s got that kind of speed.”
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