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Falcons placing Freeman on IR; hopeful for return

The Atlanta Falcons will place two-time Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman on injured reserve with a groin injury, coach Dan Quinn said Tuesday.

“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.”

Freeman played in just two of the first six games while slowed by knee, foot and groin injuries. He injured his right knee in a season-opening loss at Philadelphia and missed three games. Then in a Week 5 loss at Pittsburgh, Freeman suffered the foot and groin injuries.

With Freeman out, the Falcons now will return to Tevin Coleman as the starter with rookie Ito Smith as the backup. Coleman is averaging 3.7 rushing yards per game, while Smith set a franchise rookie record this past weekend by scoring a rushing touchdown in his third consecutive game.

The Falcons signed Freeman to a five-year, $41.25 million extension last year that included $22 million in guaranteed money. Coleman, meanwhile, is in the last year of his rookie contract.

Freeman rushed for 865 yards and seven touchdowns on 196 carries in 2017. He had back-to-back, 1,000-rushing-yard seasons in 2015 and ’16. Last year, a significant right knee injury limited Freeman’s production.

His move to IR is just the latest in a string of injury woes for the Falcons. They lost Pro Bowl strong safety Keanu Neal to a season-ending ACL tear, while Pro Bowl middle linebacker Deion Jones currently is on IR while recovering from foot surgery.

Jones could return by the Nov. 18 game against Dallas, if healthy.

The team also placed starting free safety Ricardo Allen on season-ending IR with an Achilles’ tear and lost starting left guard Andy Levitre for the season with a triceps injury.

Falcons veteran kicker Matt Bryant suffered a hamstring strain after making a 57-yard field goal against the Bucs on Sunday. The team is expected to sign Giorgio Tavecchio to handle the kicking duties for at least Monday night’s home game against the New York Giants.

Quinn said he is optimistic about getting defensive linemen Grady Jarrett (ankle) and Derrick Shelby (groin) back from their respective injuries.

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