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Nerdy Birdz: Four key stats to know about Falcons rookie Ito Smith heading into the Bucs game

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons (1-4) are back home at Mercedes-Benz Stadium this Sunday and will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) at 1 p.m. ET. Here are four key stats on rookie running back Ito Smith in this Week 6 matchup:

1. Run, rookie, run: Smith has seen play in all five games this year and his totals include 21 rushes for 80 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Smith also has eight receptions for 67 yards. Among rookie running backs, Smith is one of five players who has posted more than 60 receiving yards as well, including Giants’ Saquon Barkley, Colts’ Nyheim Hines, Lions’ Kerryon Johnson and Broncos’ Phillip Lindsay. Among all his rookie peers, Smith is tied for the third-most rushing touchdowns so far this season.

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2. Back-to-back: In Week 4, the Southern Miss alum tallied a 7-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter to get the Falcons on the board, marking his first career rushing touchdown. Smith also notched a 2-yard rushing touchdown against the Steelers in Week 5, becoming the first rookie to record a rushing touchdown in two consecutive games in franchise history. With a rushing touchdown this week, Smith will become the first Falcon with three consecutive games since running back Tevin Coleman (Nov. 12-26, 2017).

3. The Golden Eagle: Smith attended Southern Miss from 2014-2017 and left his mark on the football program. The 2018 fourth-round draft pick finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards with 6,534 yards (125.7 average) over his 52-game career. Smith led the school in rushing each of his four years, becoming one of three players to accomplish that feat.

4. Elusive Ito: According to Pro Football Focus, Smith has the third best elusive rating among running backs in the NFL with at least 20 rush attempts. The elusive rating distills the success and impact of a runner with the ball independently of the blocking in from of him. Smith has avoided nine total tackles and is averaging more than three yards after contact per touch, the eighth-most in the NFL.

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