Atlanta Falcons Rumors: Devonta Freeman Denies Tevin Coleman, Antone Smith Battle as Justin Hardy Starter Over Devin Hester for Julio Jones, Roddy White?

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May 29, 2015 10:21 AM EDT
Devonta Freeman
Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman participates in OTAs in 2015."

The Atlanta Falcons have a battle brewing at the running back spot, just what the coaches wanted. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan made it clear that rushing the ball would be a big priority for the team in 2015 and the Falcons feel they have the personnel to make that happen. The issue is they do not have a true starter yet as both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman intend to be the leading rusher.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Freeman is currently taking snaps with the first-team offense in OTAs while Coleman learns the offense, but both players are expected to split carries heading into the season. Freeman expected to enter the season as the starting running back after the Falcons dropped both Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers in free agency. After the addition of Coleman in the draft, Freeman is making it clear he has no intentions of giving up the No. 1 spot.

''I take a lot of pride in that,'' Freeman said, via AP Sports. ''This means a lot to me. This has always been my dream. I never had a dream to come to the NFL and play second to no man. I didn't really take a break.  went hard. ... I just went full-throttle. I didn't take days off. Football is all I know and all I love. ... I was always working.''

Coleman is taking the same attitude. After getting draft he told that he intended to fight for the starting job and be the workhorse the Falcons need. Atlanta is likely loving the battle between the two backs as it helps with improvement in the offense. Both Coleman and Freeman should get plenty of work in this offseason as Antone Smith continues to heal from a broken leg. Both young rushers will work in tandem while Smith comes in as a situational back this season.

The Falcons are hoping their passing game is equally as strong as their run game this year. With Julio Jones and Roddy White both back as the top two receivers, rookie Justin Hardy could be a strong option for the third spot. According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN, the Falcons drafted Hardy to replace Harry Douglas and they believe he could be the better option over players like Devin Hester and Eric Weems. 

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