Atlanta Falcons Strangly Keep Six Running Backs on Roster

Atlanta Falcons, Devonta Freeman (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Devonta Freeman (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons, Ito Smith (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The regular season is nearly here and the Atlanta Falcons roster is set. The team surprisingly decided to keep six running backs. Today we look at the backs on the final 53.

The Atlanta Falcons have begun preparations for their season opener. The Dirty Birds will travel to Minnesota, to face the vaunted Vikings defense. The team has now finalized its opening day 53 man roster, so let’s look the surprising number of running backs and what they bring to the table.

Running Backs (6)


Devonta Freeman

Ito Smith

Brian Hill

Qadree Ollison

Kenjon Barner


Keith Smith

The Incumbents

This unit was the biggest surprise of the Atlanta Falcons offensive roster. Of course Devonta Freeman, who returns after missing all except two games was a lock to make the club. Freeman is one of the NFL’s most elusive runners when healthy.

Ito Smith was also a lock to make the Atlanta Falcons team. He is another agile runner, who has a style similar to Devonta Freeman, the man he backs up.

Smith played in 14 games for the Dirty Birds, rushing for 315 yards and four touchdowns. The key for Ito will be improving on his 3.5 yards per carry average from last season.

Brian Hill also made the Falcons final 53 man roster. Prior to the Atlanta Falcons win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in their final preseason game, many believed that Brian Hill was still competing for a spot on the roster.

Yet Hill was held out as the Falcons snapped a 12 game preseason losing streak. That signified that HIll was safe, as coach Dan Quinn would not have released Hill, without giving him one last chance to earn his place on the team.

Brian Hill has had an unusual road with the Atlanta Falcons. He was originally picked by Atlanta in round five of the 2017 NFL Draft. He was surprisingly released by the team, prior to the 2018 season.

After spending 2017 with the Cincinnati Bengals, mostly on their practice squad, Hill was signed to the Atlanta Falcons practice squad in September of 2018. Later in the month after an injury to starter Devonta Freeman, Brian was signed to the active roster.

Late last season Brian Hill’s number was called and he answered resoundingly. He rushed for 157 yards, on an incredible 7.9 yards per carry for the season.

Hill had a career best day against the Carolina Panthers. He toted the ball only eight times, but ripped off 115 yards on the ground. That is quite the accomplishment against the Panthers’ defense, a unit that ranked number eight in the NFL against the run.