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Falcons trying to find running game

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons are determined to run the ball better.

That plan suffered a setback when Tevin Coleman sustained a cracked rib against the New York Giants. Falcons second-year running back Devonta Freeman is ready to carry the rushing load, or at least try.

“I’m prepared for it,” Freeman said. “I always prepare hard. Whatever coach asks me to do, I’m going to do it.”

Falcons coach Dan Quinn wouldn’t rule out Coleman for the Dallas game, but a non-displaced cracked rib normally heals in two to four weeks, according to a former NFL team doctor.

“Fortunately rib fractures heal more quickly than other bones,” Dr. David Chao said. “Two to four weeks would not be unreasonable.”

Coleman could take a pain injection and try to play with the cracked rib. Quinn, who would not put a timetable on Coleman’s recovery, acknowledged that Coleman’s threshold of pain would be key to a quick recovery.

“That’s really what it comes down to with regard to the pain,” Quinn said. “That’s something that we’ll go through and it’s his first time going through, that’s why I didn’t want to put a (time) on it at this point yet.”

The Falcons’ rushing attack got off to a promising start against the New York Giants before fading over the last three quarters.

Coleman was carted off the field in the second quarter and Freeman took over.

Coleman had nine carries for 32 yards, including a long of 11 yards and a one-yard touchdown run. In the season-opening 26-24 win over the Eagles, he rushed for 80 yards on 20 carries.

Freeman, who missed most of the exhibition season because of a hamstring injury, finished with 25 yards on 12 carries, including the game-winning touchdown from two yards.

He pronounced himself fully recovered from the hamstring injury he suffered on Aug. 6.

“That game that we just played, I didn’t have (any) problems with it,” Freeman said. “I felt pretty good.”

Freeman and Terron Ward are the only backs on the roster, and running back Jahwah Edwards is on the practice squad.

Quinn said the team was not interested in signing a free agent running back at this time.

Without a viable rushing attack, quarterback Matt Ryan threw 46 passes against the Giants. The Falcons’ offense is designed around running the ball, which Ryan can use to buy time with play-action fakes, rollouts and bootlegs.

Freeman believes he can help to get the rushing attack moving.

“I’m the type of back that has to get into a rhythm,” Freeman said. “Once I get in a rhythm and get a feel for the game, I’m fine.”

The Falcons have installed the outside-zone rushing attack with mixed results thus far. If Freeman can get things moving, teams will eventually stop honoring Ryan’s plan-action fakes.

“Our run game and the keepers that go along with it, have to be a factor,” Quinn said. “When that part opens up even more, that’s when I think our offense can become even more explosive.”

Freeman said he needs to do a better job of cutting and hitting holes in the scheme.

Both Freeman and Quinn noted that the blocking needs to be 100 percent for the scheme to work.

“We just have to get it where it’s all 11 together,” Quinn said. “At times, we were missing at tight end, we were missing at guard or missing at receiver. That connection with those guys in the run game, when you run this wide zone scheme, you have to be honest. There can’t be (missed blocks).”

–Wide receiver Roddy White, the franchise’s all-time leading receiver, had his streak of 130 consecutive regular-season games with at least one catch snapped against the New York Giants on Sunday.

The last time White played in a game and didn’t catch a pass was against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 3, 2006.

“Just didn’t get the ball,” White said. “We are 2-0. It doesn’t matter.”

Falcons coach Dan Quinn wasn’t aware of the streak.

White was targeted only once against the Giants, but Leonard Hankerson, the team’s slot receiver was targeted 11 times and made six catches for 77 yards and one touchdown.

NOTES: Among those missing some or all of practice Wednesday were defensive end Kroy Biermann (personal matter), linebacker Brooks Reed (groin), wide receiver Devin Hester (turf toe), defensive end Malliciah (triceps) and running back Tevin Coleman (cracked rib). Linebacker Paul Worrilow (bruised calf) is day-to-day and was limited in practice.


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