Posted: 6:00 am Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Countdown to camp: Day 2 — Running backs 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH — The countdown rolls on!

The veterans report today. The rookies have been on site since Tuesday and the first practice is set for Friday.

The media fitness run is Saturday at noon. I’ve checked with president and CEO Rich McKay to see if the ambulances are ready. Also, we’ll need to make sure that at least two CPR-trained Falcons cheerleaders are on-site.

HERE’S the big NEWS heading into camp: Falcons WR Julio Jones cleared for practice.

Check back this afternoon as we’ll post some blog items and a video or two on AJC.com since there is some media access from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. today. 

We started our countdown 10 days out.

Countdown to camp: Day 10 – The new coaches

Countdown to camp: Day 9 – Special teams

Countdown to camp: Day 8 – Defensive backs

Countdown to camp: Day 7 — Linebackers

Countdown to camp: Day 6 — Defensive line 

Countdown to camp: Day 5 – Offensive line

Countdown to camp: Day 4 — Wide receivers

Countdown to camp: Day 3 — Tight ends

Today, we’ll look at the running backs.

Here’s our projected depth chart for the running backs.

RB 39 Steven Jackson, 32 Jacquizz Rodgers, 35 Antone Smith, 33 Devonta Freeman, 30 Josh Vaughan, 34 Jerome Smith

FB  42 Patrick DiMarco, 45 Maurice Hagens, 43 Roosevelt Nix

Falcons running back Steven Jackson hopes to rebound from a sub-par 2013 season. He averaged a career-low 3.5 yards per carry in 2014.

Falcons running back Steven Jackson hopes to rebound from a sub-par 2013 season. He averaged a career-low 3.5 yards per carry in 2014.

Falcons running back Steven Jackson’s streak of eight consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons came to an end in 2014.

For the third consecutive season, he was slowed by a soft-tissue injury. Jackson suffered a hamstring injury in the second game of the season against his former team, the St. Louis Rams. He missed four games.

Jackson, who turned 31 on Tuesday, rushed 157 times for 543 yards and scored six touchdowns. He averaged a career-low 3.5 yards per carry.

However, the Falcons are counting on Jackson to bounce back and carry the rushing attack.

Much has been made of rookie Devonta Freeman, but he’ll start off as Jason Snelling’s replacement.

The dependable Jacquizz Rodgers is also back.

Falcons running back Warrick Dunn believes that Freeman is a good fit. Dunn was a speed back, who ran with authority at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds. Freeman also is 5-8, but is 26 pounds heavier.

“He’s a little stocky power back, who can pick up some tough yards for you as well,” Dunn said. “He’ll have to come in and soak everything up and learn the system. Then, he’ll have to try to find his spot where he can go in and make plays.”

Freeman rushed 173 times for 1,016 yards last season and became FSU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Dunn accomplished that feat in 1996.

“As far as the running back position, I know they are bringing in people who can help us be the best that we can be,” Dunn said. “We have a nice group of running backs, but it’s like anything, we have to take the next step in preventing injuries. We have to just utilize the guy’s talents in the way that helps them excel.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith is also more comfortable with backup running back Antone Smith, who flashed in spot duty last season.

DiMarco was the No. 1 full back last season and was used exclusively as a blocker. He played 196 snaps and did not have a carry.

PROJECTED 2014 TRAINING CAMP DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

WR 11 Julio Jones, 13 Darius Johnson, 14 Courtney Roby, 18 Freddie Martino, 89 Bernard Reedy,

LT 72 Sam Baker, 76 Lamar Holmes, 74 Terren Jones

LG 63 Justin Blalock, 68 Gabe Carimi, 67 Adam Replogle

C 61 Joe Hawley, 66 Peter Konz, 62 James Stone

RG 75 Jon Asamoah, 69 Harland Gunn

RT 70 Jake Matthews, 79 Mike Johnson 73 Ryan Schrader

TE 80 Levine Toilolo, 86 Bear Pascoe, 82 Mickey Shuler, 81 Jacob Pedersen, 49 Brian Wozniak

WR 84 Roddy White, 83 Harry Douglas, Jeremy Ebert, 15 Geraldo Boldewijn, 16 Julian Jones, 87 Tramaine Thompson

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 T.J. Yates, 12 Sean Renfree, 9 Jeff Mathews

RB 39 Steven Jackson, 32 Jacquizz Rodgers, 35 Antone Smith, 33 Devonta Freeman, 30 Josh Vaughan, 34 Jerome Smith

FB  42 Patrick DiMarco, 45 Maurice Hagens, 43 Roosevelt Nix

4-3 DEFENSE (with an extra line for the nickel back)

RE 95 Jonathan Babineaux, 50 Osi Umenyiora, 96 Jonathan Massaquoi, 90 Stansly Maponga

DT 99 Tyson Jackson, 91 Corey Peters, 92 Travian Robertson

DT 96 Paul Soliai, 97 Peria Jerry, 98 Cliff Matthews, 65 Donte Rumph

LE 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 98 Malliciah Goodman, 49 Tyler Starr, 64 Nosa Equae

OLB 71 Kroy Biermann, 48 Brenden Daley, 45 Jacques Smith

MLB 55 Paul Worrilow, 52 Tim Dobbins, Pat Angerer, 54 Yawin Smallwood

OLB 59 Joplo Bartu, 53 Prince Shembo, 51 Marquis Spruill, 46 Walker May,

RCB 21 Desmond Trufant, 28 Javier Arenas, 37 Ricardo Allen,

NB 26 Josh Wilson, 27 Robert McClain, 28 Javier Arenas, 41 Dezmen Southward

LCB 23 Robert Alford, 24 Jordan Mabin, 43 Devonta Glover-Wright

SS 25 William Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 40 Kimario McFadden, 22 Zeke Motta

FS 20 Dwight Lowery, 41 Dezmen Southward, 29 Sean Baker

SPECIALISTS

K 3 Matt Bryant, 6 Sergio Castillo

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 17 Devin Hester, 28 Javier Arenas, 14 Courtney Roby

PR  17 Devin Hester, 27 Robert McClain, 28 Javier Arenas

LS  47 Josh Harris

 H 5 Matt Bosher

TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE

Date                                                      Practice Times (public availability)

Tuesday, July 22                                Rookies report

Thursday, July 24                          Veterans report

Friday, July 25                                    Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, July 26                              Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, July 27                                 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, July 28                               Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Tuesday, July 29                               Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Wednesday, July 30                        Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Thursday, July 31                              Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Friday, August 1                              “Friday Night Lights” at Archer High School (Lawrenceville)

                                                            6:45 – 9:10 p.m. (open to the public)

Saturday, August 2                          Practice 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (open to the public)

Sunday, August 3                             Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Monday, August 4                           Combined Practice w/Tennessee  3-5:30 p.m.                                                (open to the public)

Tuesday, August 5                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Wednesday, August 6                    Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)

Thursday, August 7                         Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)

Friday, August 8                                Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins

                                                                Georgia Dome

                                                                7:00 p.m. ET – CW69

 Saturday, August 9                          Practice 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. (open to the public)

 Sunday, August 10                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

 Monday, August 11                         Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)

 Tuesday, August 12                         Practice 10:00 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. (open to the public)

 Wednesday, August 13                 Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)

Thursday, August 14                       Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)

Friday, August 15                             Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)

Saturday, August 16                        Falcons at Houston Texans

                                                                NRG Stadium

                                                                8:00 p.m. ET – CW69

 Sunday, August 17                           Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)

Monday, August 18                         Practice 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (closed to the public)

                                                                Break Camp

MANDATORY MINICAMP REVIEW

Q&A with Falcons QB T.J. Yates

Falcons to practice with Titans, Texans in training camp

Falcons coach Mike Smith will try to rebound from first losing season on Hard Knocks 

Sam Baker is back to help line re-establish its identity

Falcons WR Roddy White: ‘Hard for me to deal with’ death of a brother

How much the Falcons rookies will be paid

Rookies getting advice on NFL life

Open competition in training camp will be good for Undrafted Rookies

 THE LATEST FROM OTAS

Sean Weatherspoon suffers season-ending Achilles injury

What’s next for Sean Weaatherspoon?

What’s next for the Falcons at linebacker?

Javier Arenas gets to watch longtime role model

Falcons cut Szczerba, Yoklic

Falcons minicamp is open to the public

VIDEO CORNER

Sean Weatherspoon to miss 2014 season

Matt Ryan on Harry Douglas’ contribution to the offense

Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox

Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo

Falcons assistant head coach Terry Robiskie on Devin Hester

Falcons coach Mike Smith on OTAs

17 comments
FalconJames
FalconJames

DOL, did you check with JSSN to see what he thinks we should do?

Dman
Dman

This is one area where we are improved not for the pickup of Freeman but because our line should be able to open holes and Jckson shouldn't be getting hit 2 yards behind the line this season. That alone will improve these backs. I hope Antone gets a fair shot too because he showed some skills last season when he got to carry the ball.

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

I dont undrestand why the Falcons had 2 sigh an over the hill Jaxson. We alerady had that with Tipy Toe Turner. No 1 want 2 see an over pay palyer just fall forword in 2 the pile.

TommyLeeMaddox
TommyLeeMaddox

I wish they'd play Vaughn and Antone Smith. Both of those guys can be great.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Keep a keen eye on Rosie Nix.

Our future FB.

What's to like about DiMarco?

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

Smitty should allow antone to carry the rock a little more this season. Alternate between SJ,AS and JR. (throw in Devonte Freeman  here and there. see what he can do.)

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Tess -- Which one are you accusing of falling forward into the pile?

Both seemed to have that routine down equally as good as the other the past 2 seasons. :(

JSSN
JSSN

@BigCrimson75

Roosevelt is a good kid, and FB in the Falcons scheme is hard (shouldn't be, but is). He's never played fullback on this level. If they keep him around, he could develop into a solid fullback and protector.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@JSSN @BigCrimson75


If he can pick up the protection schemes quickly, I would not be surprised to see him leading up into the holes this year. Smitty is coaching for his job and he will revert to running the ball again this year and if this kid can put that 260 pound body on some linebackers...he might be a steal for the Falcons this year!

Flacons_go_2-14
Flacons_go_2-14

@AnsweredTHIS Is all U do is response 2 everthing I say and make fun fo me? U need 2 get a life.