<
>

Devonta Freeman plans to run with more disrespect for opposing tacklers

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Two-time Pro Bowler Devonta Freeman always runs with a purpose. But the Atlanta Falcons running back wants opponents to feel him even more in 2017.

In talking about things he plans to do to enhance his game, Freeman gave opposing defenders a warning.

"Just little things like breaking arm tackles, running through," Freeman said. "I feel like that's what I can get better at helping the offensive linemen out because those guys, they bust their butts. They don't get to rotate. The only time they get a break is if we score a touchdown, then when the defense goes on the field. But if we have an 18-play drive, they're on the field all game. So helping those guys out by giving them a blow by breaking a big tackle.

"Last year, I left some runs out there. Also in the open field, continue to make guys miss, punishing guys. I just want to be real disrespectful this year when it comes to football."

Freeman finished ninth in the league in rushing last season with 1,079 yards on 227 carries with 11 rushing touchdowns. He had 350 yards after contact, which was 18th among runners with 160-plus carries. Miami's Jay Ajayi led the league with 656 rushing yards after contact, followed by Dallas' Ezekiel Elliott with 632.

In 2015, Freeman had 404 of his 1,056 rushing yards after contact. But the Falcons had a much better run last season in making it all the way to the Super Bowl.