FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Bernie Parmalee took over a running backs room that features one of the best tandems in the game in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
And when asked what stands out the most about the duo having now worked with them for a few months, before even mentioning anything about their physical abilities, Parmalee noted their professionalism is what is most impressive.
“They’re strengths are how they carry themselves professionally first,” Parmalee said. “They come to work and they work hard. They are showing the young guys how it’s supposed to be done. You have to lead by example. You have to take ownership and those guys have taken ownership of the room and everything we do.”
Freeman and Coleman are two of Atlanta’s most dynamic players on offense. The two of them combined for 2,109 yards of total offense and 16 touchdowns in 2017.
Based off head coach Dan Quinn’s comments this offseason, the Falcons want to utilize Freeman and Coleman even more in the upcoming season.
“We want to make sure we are really featuring [Tevin] and Devonta in as many ways as we can," Quinn said. "Splitting them outside, leaving them in the backfield, the amount of catches and touches that we can get for those guys, we know how explosive they are."
If there’s anyone who knows how to teach Freeman and Coleman and help take their games to another level it's Parmalee. Atlanta’s new running backs coach played nine seasons in the NFL, seven with the Dolphins and two with the Jets. During his playing career, he rushed for 2,179 yards.
Given how long Parmalee’s career was, he knows firsthand what a player needs to do to keep themselves healthy and in shape so they can make it through a full NFL season healthy.
The Falcons also added Ito Smith to their running backs room. Atlanta drafted Smith in the fourth round of the 2018 draft out of Southern Mississippi. Smith brings the versatility the Falcons like in their backs with the ability to not only bring a presence to their ground game, but the passing game as well. During Smith’s final season at Southern Mississippi, he rushed for 1,803 yards and 24 touchdowns and caught 27 passes for 388 yards and five receiving touchdowns.
All in all, when asked if he could use one word to describe what he has in the Falcons’ running backs room, Parmalee said it’s a group of “playmakers.”