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In a crowded running back room, Godwin Igwebuike hopes to make most of Falcons opportunity

In the Falcons Friday night win against the Dolphins in Miami, Igwebuike shined while still understanding the reality of his situation as a running back in Atlanta. 

MIAMI GARDENS, Fl. — Running back Godwin Igwebuike understands the reality of his situation. He knows he's in a room with Cordarrelle Patterson, a veteran of over a decade who's seen it all and played just as many roles. He knows he sits beside Tyler Allgeier in meetings, a fifth-round draft pick who turned into Mr. 1,000 in his rookie season. He knows the Falcons drafted Bijan Robinson with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. He also knows a 53-man roster cut down is coming at the end of August, and that the chances of the Falcons carrying a fourth running back is slim, if even possible considering how many spaces could be up for grabs by the end of the preseason. 

Despite knowing all of this, Igwebuike still shined fairly bright in the Falcons first preseason game. The Falcons beat the Dolphins 19-3 on Friday, and though the offense only put up six of those point, it was six points Igwebuike played a major role in obtaining. 


Godwin finished the night with 70 of the Falcons 102 rushing yards. He averaged 5.4 yards a carry. When the ball was in his hands, the offense was grooving, particularly on the Falcons second drive of the night. In said drive, which resulted in a touchdown by Igwebuike, the 28-year-old running back got four consecutive handoffs. Finding holes and gaps, Igwebuike ripped off those consecutive runs with solid production, 38 rushing yards and a touchdown to be exact. 

Head coach Arthur Smith said Igwebuike is someone the Falcons are "thankful" to have at this point in the preseason. 

"He's a guy who has been out there and he has another opportunity and he's trying to take advantage of it," Smith said. "He's a smart, tough guy. I really thought he hit the hole hard tonight and ran downhill and did a good job pressing and cutting. Some of the gap stuff that we were doing, especially on the touchdown run, he was in a pretty good groove."

Smith added that Igwebuike's abilities on special teams is something that matters to the Falcons right now, too, seeing as he made a special teams tackle in the third quarter and was in charge of kick return duties on Friday. Because of the way the running back room is constructed, the way for Igwebuike to better his case to make this 53-man roster is to show a worthwhile special teams prowess. He knows that.

"The reality is that our room is full of talent so any way in which I can contribute, it may not be getting the rock in my hands at first, so if I can go out there on special teams and make some tackles, go back there as a returner, set up the offense with great field position, that's what this league is about," Igwebuike said. "It might not be what you necessarily want it to be at the moment but it's about taking advantage of your role at the time. You never know how things are going to unravel." 

And Igwebuike would know. This isn't his first time at the bottom of a depth chart with talent - expensive talent - ahead of him. Since signing with the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Northwestern in 2018, Igwebuike has hopped around the league. He's spent time with the 49ers, Eagles, Jets, Lions and Seahawks. He's no stranger to the circumstance he finds himself in now.


For running backs in this position, a lot of times their preseason performances are less for the team they are currently suiting up for and more for running back hungry teams across the league that need depth at the position later. But of course many would still love to make the team they're currently with. That's kind of where Igwebuike finds himself, specifically saying he really appreciates the Falcons offense scheme and game plan, adding that he believes the culture in Atlanta is special and something he likes being a part of.

"It's a great culture where guys really want to make everybody better," he said. "There are not many better places that I've been where I've been able to shine and compete and hold that high standard the team has."

For a running back, though, this 53-man roster will be tough to make. Igwebuike isn't naive to that fact. It's why he views every day in the same way he viewed Friday.

"For me, every day is a game day," Igwebuike said. "Every day is an opportunity to prove myself. So, I am trying to keep the same ambition, stay consistent. That, and coaches love trust, so I want them to be able to trust me to do what I'm supposed to be doing and just give it all I have."

Over the years, Igwebuike has learned that there are a lot of hills and valleys as a player in his position working to make an NFL roster. But he says there are only hills and valleys if you allow yourself to think of it that way. He tries not to, knowing that this is just another opportunity for him to keep working towards something, even if that "something" is being behind the likes of Patterson, Allgeier and Robinson.

"I'm going out there hungry," Igwebuike said. "Came from the crib, didn't even know when an opportunity might come but just staying ready for when it did come. Definitely came in with a chip on my shoulder, ready and willing to prove myself."

On Friday, that's what Igwebuike worked to do. It's something he'll continue to do throughout all of camp, and - he hopes - beyond. But with so much talent ahead of him, he still understands the reality of his situation in Atlanta. It's a reality he's hoping to make the best of regardless of how it eventually turns out.

"The spectrum is really wide (in the running back room) and it allows for a lot of cool perspective, and all the dudes in there are super humble and they've obviously had a lot of success in different spheres," Igwebuike said. "There's definitely a humility to the room that comes along with the talent that allows everybody to thrive. Being a part of that has been huge. I'm super blessed."

Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Miami Dolphins during Preseason Week 1.

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