ATLANTA – It was late on Wednesday night at the Falcons team hotel when running back Qadree Ollison found out he would be elevated to the active roster against the New England Patriots on Thursday night. With Cordarrelle Patterson's status then a game-time decision, Arthur Smith told Ollison to be prepared to play.
Still, it did not mean that Ollison would be on the field.
After the Falcons ran Cordarrelle Patterson through a pregame workout and it was clear Patterson would not be ready to go, Ollison became the next man up on the Falcons depth chart after Mike Davis and Wayne Gallman.
"I always prepare as if I'm going to," Ollison said. "I always stay ready, so I don't have to get ready."
Ollison, who had been activated from the Falcons practice squad just once this season, was prepared and excited to prove what he could do out of the Falcons backfield.
"With CP not being able to go, it was an opportunity for a lot of people out there," Ollison said. "So I definitely wanted to take advantage of that opportunity and really seize that opportunity. I definitely was excited for the game today."
All season Patterson and Ollison have had a tight-knit bond, with Patterson becoming somewhat of a mentor. Before the game, Patterson gave Ollison some final words of advice.
"That's my big bro. He really took me under his wing," Ollison said. "He pretty much told me it was just football, you know, at the end of the day, it's what we've been doing our whole lives, don't make it, really bigger than what it is, you know, it's just football."
Ollison took Patterson's words and ran with them, as he was the Falcons' best back on Thursday night.
Ollison led the team in rushing with nine carries for 34 yards. While 34 yards is not a number that jumps off the page, it was the way Ollison picked up his yards that did. When other backs struggled, Ollison brought a different bounce and quickness with the ball in his hands that made him effective against the Patriots' defense.
"I wanted to try to give a spark and bring a different type of running style to the offense," he said. "Especially without CP being able to go. I know for a fact he wanted to play, so I was thankful and grateful for the opportunity. I really just wanted to bring a spark and really just do my job. That was the biggest thing this week is just doing your job."
With the game out of reach for the Falcons, Ollison was still running tough, looking for contact and lowering his shoulder late in the game. At 6-foot-one 232-pounds, that physical style is how Ollison has played since he was in college at the University of Pittsburgh.
"I feel like that's why I got drafted here," he said. "You know, being Yeah, being a bigger back, you know, running physical bringing just a different type of tone, type of style to the run game. And so, you know, that's really been my MO, I feel like for my career so far."
And as far as filling the shoes of Patterson, Ollison shut that down that idea quickly.
"Man, honestly, I don't think I can do what CP do," Ollison said while scratching his head and laughing. "He's a special player. I think we honestly just to two completely different players. I don't think I really can do everything he can do. CP a great player, though."