Two players on the Falcons’ roster this year that are fighting that uphill battle are running backs
Last season the Falcons carried four running backs, with
“With any opportunity I get, it’s more than enough for me,” Russell said. “I’m just trying to build trust for the coaches. I definitely had an amazing experience, not just playing, but also walking through the tunnel with these guys. I’m enjoying it and I’m trying to keep building on more playing time so the coaches will have faith in me.”
Running backs coach Gerald Brown thought both of them took advantage of their opportunities. He saw backs that took what they’d been doing on the practice field and learning in the meeting rooms to the field and made some positive plays.
“I think both of them got around five or six snaps each,” Brown said. “When Wingo was in there, he had some nice runs. He had about three or four nice runs, so he looked good there. Russell came in there late and he caught a screen pass. It was good to see them get out there and make some plays for us. They’re young but they’re coming along. “
Wingo’s four runs gave him an average of 7.3 yards per carry and he continues to show he’s the kind of player that uses deceptive speed to gain yards in the open field. On a few occasions during training camp, Wingo found a hole and burst through it, turning on the burners and surprising some with the speed to get away.
That speed is a big part of his game and though many don’t realize he’s a former Southeastern Conference running back, his speed and size (6-foot-3) make him look like a Jackson clone, minus the long hair.
On Tuesday Falcons head coach Mike Smith said many of the players that didn’t see a lot of snaps until late in the first week would see more this week. With Jason Snelling out against Baltimore there’s a good chance Wingo and Russell will be among those players getting a longer look. Veteran Antone Smith will be ready for the Ravens, but has been out of practices the last week and a half, giving both backs more time.
Russell and Wingo have had some snaps in practices lately with starters and while that’s a great experience, both know they can make a mark and earn a spot if they show up on special teams. Wingo didn’t get any special teams reps last week and Russell only saw one, so that figures to change this week.
“I feel like I can really make a splash and put a stamp on everything if I can make some plays on special teams,” Wingo said. “If you don’t start, there are only 53 guys, so you’ll have to play special teams. I feel like if I can make some noise on special teams it’ll really help me out.”
Both look for leadership from Jackson, a player with a long career and recognized as a player that’s performed at a high level while doing it the right way. He’s taken on a leadership role in the running backs room and both young backs have gained from it the example he’s set.
“He’s definitely a guy you can study,” Russell said. “He’s been in the league a long time. He’s been successful as a running back and he looks great. He’s a big dude and it looks like he can go another five or 10 years. I’m always asking questions and he’s always there to answer them. He’s definitely been a mentor to me.”