The Atlanta Falcons will have a new offensive weapon when they face the Miami Dolphins tonight, in what is expected to be the NFL debut of rookie running back Tevin Coleman. Coleman, Atlanta's third round pick this year, injured his hamstring in training camp and has not been able to play since.
Dave Choate from SB Nation's The Falcoholic told us earlier today that he would expect Coleman to be the starting running back of the future for Atlanta. "Coleman is, in my humble opinion, the future feature back in this offense." Choate explained. "He's got terrific speed, he's an ideal fit in many ways for the one cut system Shanahan is installing, and he's got a surprising ability to bull through contact. Freeman is an ideal complement, as a fine runner, able pass catcher, and quality blocker. For this year, though, Freeman seems to have a slight edge, and if he can get and stay healthy, he may be the lead dog in what looks to be a committee approach to the backfield."
James Rael, also a writer for The Falcoholic, agrees, writing, "Coleman has a certain style about him, a certain swagger, and I'm not just referring to how he runs. From the moment the Falcons drafted him, Coleman made one thing very clear: he wants to start. Because a running back by committee approach is likely in Kyle Shanahan's offense, that may not mean a whole lot. But in Coleman's mind, it certainly means something. He's been very outspoken about how special he is, begging questions about his ability to share a backfield."
Coleman will likely not see a lot of playing time tonight, as the Falcons look to bring him back slowly from the hamstring problems, but it will be a focal point for Falcons fans as they watch the game. Atlanta should have a solid, if not great, running back corps this year, with Coleman joined by Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith all under a Kyle Shanahan designed offense, so this could be a great matchup for Miami tonight, as they look to make sure the play of the defense reaches the potential of a defense that includes two All Pros of the defensive line (Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh).