Devonta Freeman clears concussion protocol

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) reacts during NFL football training camp Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
AP Photo/John Bazemore

Having been placed in the league’s concussion protocol in mid-August, Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman has been working his way back to the point where he’s be allowed to rejoin practice. Cleared to take part in individual work on Monday, Freeman is now able to participate fully with head coach Dan Quinn announcing the news on Tuesday afternoon.

While Freeman returning to practice is a positive development for the Falcons, it should be noted that Quinn ruled his starting running back out for Thursday’s preseason-finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With Freeman out and the team having another proven commodity in backup running back Tevin Coleman, Thursday’s game will likely be more about the remaining options who are competing for the third running back spot on the roster.

Among those competing for that job is third-year pro Terron Ward, who scored a rushing touchdown in each of the Falcons’ first two preseason games. Ward, signed by the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2015, played in just five games for the Falcons last season due to injury.

Entering his fourth NFL season, Freeman appeared briefly in the Falcons’ preseason-opener against the Miami Dolphins. Coming off of his best season as a pro, Freeman received a five-year contract extension for his efforts earlier this month.

In 2016-17, Freeman rushed for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns while also catching 54 passes for 462 yards and two more scores in the passing game. That was the second consecutive season in which Freeman surpassed the 1,000-yard mark on the ground, and in 2015-16 he also accounted for 73 receptions, 578 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions.

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