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The Atlanta Falcons have plenty of weapons in the passing game. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts, the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, joins Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, creating a formidable group for Matt Ryan.
The passing game isn’t the issue on offense though. If the Falcons want to turn things around quickly for their aging stars, getting a complementary run game is a must. The team ranked No. 27 in rushing yards last season, averaging only 95.8 yards per game.
That was with Todd Gurley, Brian Hill and Ito Smith in the mix at running back. Atlanta chose not to re-sign any of them, but they did bring in Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson. Still, many thought last month’s draft would provide a solution.
Instead, undrafted free agents Javian Hawkins and Caleb Huntley were the solution for competition. For anyone not keeping up, that leaves the running back room with:
- Mike Davis
- Cordarrelle Patterson
- Qadree Ollison
- Tony Brooks-James
- Javian Hawkins
- Caleb Huntley
Let’s not beat around the bush here. That’s an unimpressive group of running backs.
Davis did have a nice start last season filling in for the injured Christian McCaffrey in Carolina. The South Carolina product put up 1,015 total yards (642 rushing, 373 receiving) and eight scores while only starting 12 of the 16 games.
That success makes him the clear-cut leader to be the starter — and probably handle a large workload — but running backs coach Desmond Kitchings still believes the competition remains wide open, heading into offseason workouts.
“If I’m in the room, personally, I see this as an opportunity,” Kitchings said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This is an open (competition). Let’s go out here and compete.”
There’s still time for the Falcons to make a move, whether through free agency or a trade, but they likely won’t. Instead, they will stick with the group listed above, which probably means that all those pass-catchers will have a lot of opportunities in 2021.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.