As soon as the Atlanta Falcons announced the release of veteran running back Steven Jackson Thursday, fans immediately began thinking about what's next for the team's rushing attack. When Kyle Shanahan was introduced as the Falcons offensive coordinator this month, he was asked about working with players like Devonta Freeman, Antone Smith and Jacquizz Rodgers.
"I 'm really looking forward to seeing them and getting them here in OTAs and seeing what we can do," Shanahan said. "I like a good running back. There's no absolute. I've had big guys, and I've had smaller guys, I'll take any type of guy."
Shanahan went on to say that while any type of back can succeed in his zone-blocking scheme, he prefers those who are downhill runners with the versatility to create and break arm tackles. Atlanta's offense won't need to depend on a running back who needs 30 carries to crack 100 yards each game, instead a consistent rusher, who helps move the sticks by averaging more than 4 yards per carry.
During the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was asked several questions by media members, including whether or not the second-year Freeman could serve as a full-time back in Atlanta's new scheme.
"Yes, no question," Dimitroff said.
After the Falcons review their own entire roster, as well as complete collegiate and pro draft evaluations, the club will be very "open-minded" in free agency, "willing to make moves, if we deem them necessary," Dimitroff said.
Free agency begins March 10, followed by the 2015 NFL Draft in late April. Before both franchise-altering events take place, anything forecasted about who will start at running back for Quinn in 2015 serves mostly as fantasy football talk.
What we do know about Quinn, however, is that he wants competition at every position on his roster. Freeman, who ended his rookie campaign in 2014 with 65 carries for 248 yards and one touchdown, along with 30 receptions for 225 yards and another score, will likely be ready for the challenge.