Atlanta Falcons: 4 Players Who Must Improve in Game Three

Atlanta Falcons, Justin Hardy #14 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Justin Hardy #14 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons, Ito Smith (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Ito Smith • Running Back

Now that Tevin Coleman has departed for the feature role in San Francisco with the 49ers, Ito Smith is expected to be the primary backup to Devonta Freeman. With the recent injury history that Freeman has, back up running back is an important position to say the least.

So far in the preseason, Ito Smith has not appeared to be up to the challenge. After gaining just six yards on three attempts against the Denver Broncos in the Hall of Fame game, Ito only gained seven yards against Miami on four carries.

Ito Smith received a low PFF grade of 37.0, ranking him last on the Atlanta Falcons offense.

Looking back at last year’s preseason, Smith only averaged 2.5 yards per carry. Yet during the regular season he averaged 3.5 yards per carry, so maybe Ito is a guy that plays better on Sundays. At any rate, either number is unacceptable for an NFL ball carrier.

I won’t be too hard on Ito, because his carries have been limited and many running backs ger stronger as they work up a sweat and get into a rhythm. Yet a backup running back has to produce on limited carries at a moments notice, so Ito Smith must play better.