season in the CFL," said Guy Gillingham

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season in the CFL," said Guy Gillingham

Messagepar lw789 » 11 Août 2018, 06:04

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Steven Jacksons latest hamstring injury is giving Jacquizz Rodgers, Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith a chance to fill the void at running back for the Atlanta Falcons. Its a tough assignment considering how far the run game has fallen, dropping from 17th in 2011 to 29th in 2012 to worst in the NFL last season. Jackson, the NFLs active career leading rusher, missed four games with a left hamstring injury and finished his first year as a Falcon with 543 yards rushing and 3.5 per carry -- the lowest numbers of his 10-season tenure. For the past several days, Jackson has been nursing a right hamstring injury, putting his three backups in competition for snaps. Rodgers and Freeman are splitting work with the starters while Smith is working with the second and third teams. Theres no immediate timetable for Jacksons return, but Rodgers says the team is prepared to move on regardless. "In this league, youve got to always be ready," Rodgers said Saturday. "Youve got to practice like youre ready to play in a game and when your time comes, youve got to prove what youve got." Over the past three years, the Falcons used the 5-foot-6, 188-pound Rodgers as a change-of-pace option to veteran power backs such as Jackson and Michael Turner. Rodgers will have the first chance to claim the starting job until Jackson is ready to return, but coach Mike Smith likes the punch that Freeman, who last season helped Florida State win the national championship, brings to the offence. Another step in Freemans growth will come Monday and Tuesday when Atlanta hosts the Tennessee Titans for joint practices. "Theyll present some different rushes and some different blitzes, but hes on a fast track to help us," Mike Smith said. "We know what he can do with the ball in his hands. In this league, youve got to be able to protect the quarterback, and the running backs are an integral part of that." The Falcons struggled in keeping Matt Ryan clean last year as the former Pro Bowl quarterback suffered a career-high 44 sacks and was pressured 203 times, most in the NFL. Antone Smith is hoping to earn snaps with the first-team offence, but he acknowledges the need to improve his blocking skills. The team already knows what he can do on special teams as Smith spent his first four years mostly working on punt and kickoff returns and coverages. Blocking in the backfield, however, has been harder to master. "Thats always been an issue for me," Antone Smith said. "Every game you have to calibrate that pass protection, and you want to be an artist at that. Everybody can run the ball. If you cant run the ball, you wouldnt be here." Coming off a 4-12 season, the Falcons cant return to respectability with a one-dimensional offence that last season averaged 20.1 run attempts per game, lowest in the league, while leading the NFC and ranking second overall with 42.2 pass attempts. Freeman hopes to help lighten the load on Ryan and his receivers and give the rushing attack some traction. "I feel like nobody can stop me but me, and when the opportunity is there, you have to seize the moment every time," Freeman said. "I feel like I was going to eventually get to this point where the coaches throw me in the fire. It happened to be during camp, so I can get reps now. When live action comes in the games, I can try to be good at everything." Notes: FS Kemal Ishmael, a seventh-round pick last year from Central Florida, began training camp with the third-team defence, but hes now working with the starters as Dwight Lowery and rookie Dez Southward nurse injuries. Lowery left Fridays scrimmage after hitting his head. Southward, a third-round draft pick from Wisconsin, hurt his knee earlier this week. Neither has an immediate timetable to return. Raiders Jerseys Outlet . The Extreme Heat Policy was enacted at Melbourne Park just before 2 p.m. Thursday, suspending all matches on outer courts until the early evening and requiring the closure of the retractable roofs at Rod Laver and Hisense arenas before play could continue on the show courts. Nick Nelson Jersey . -- Damian Lillard couldnt believe when he got a clear look at the rim. "Theyve been good against everybody," he said. Carlos Gomez launched a three-run homer and Matt Garza battled into the seventh inning for his first win in four starts to help the Brewers continue their mastery of the Rockies with a 7-4 victory Saturday. Youth Raiders Jerseys . Hamelin overcame a weak start to win bronze in the 500-metre race behind winner Wu Dajing of China and American J.R. Celski on Saturday at the world short track speed skating championship. Arden Key Jersey . -- Adam Tambellini scored three times and set up one more as the Calgary Hitmen won their sixth in a row by crushing the host Lethbridge Hurricanes 8-1 on Saturday in Western Hockey League play.The Toronto Argonauts announced on Monday that the club had released import defensive lineman Khalif Mitchell. The 28-year-old East Carolina product spent the last season with the Argos after having spent the previous three with the B.C. Lions. In his four CFL seasons, Mitchell is a two-time CFL All-Star, including last season, and won the Grey Cup with the Lions in 2011. Upon his trade to the Argos prior to last season, Mitchell was said to be unhappy with the move and was planning not to report to the team. "Khalif just wants a fresh start and wants to play his final season in the CFL," said Guy Gillingham, Mitchellls advisor, at the time.dddddddddddd Mitchell eventually did report and he told TSNs Farhan Lalji that part of the agreement to join the club hinged on GM Jim Barker promising to release him after the season to look for NFL options. Last season with the Argos, Mitchell recorded 32 tackles and five sacks. He also told Lalji that he has been approached by NFL clubs for workouts and believes that his situation will become clearer in the next 48 hours when NFL free agency opens. Prior to signing with the Lions, Mitchell spent two seasons on the practice roster of the San Francisco 49ers after going undrafted in the 2009 NFL Draft. 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