ATLANTA -- Don't be surprised if the Atlanta Falcons sign another running back in the next day or two.
They entered Friday night's exhibition against the Tennessee Titans already without their top two backs sidelined after Devonta Freeman and rookie Tevin Coleman suffered hamstring strains in practice. And now, third-stringer Antone Smith suffered his own hamstring injury after scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run in the game.
"Hopefully, Antone can come back quick," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. "We are anticipating seeing Devonta and Tevin getting back in action, and hopefully they can progress through the week. They're both working really hard, so they're getting close."
Freeman and Coleman suffered their injuries last week, and the mildest hamstring strain (Grade 1) calls for a two-week recovery period, at minimum. They've been doing agility drills on a side field during practice, and both suited up for pregame warmups and individual drills Friday.
"It was really by design," Quinn said of Freeman and Coleman suiting up but not playing. "That was part of their rehab, and this is our first time going together through the process. There is a real process for getting ready to perform. I wanted them to go through that process, especially for Tevin because this was his first real time. The next game it won't be, 'Well, what are we doing? How do I go through pregame?' How do I get ready?'
"I thought it was a good lesson for those guys and also part of the rehab, I want them to enjoy the time with the guys. Go through the pregame and get ready, and hopefully this week we will have those guys back. Then they can have a normal functioning pregame next week."
All that being said, the Falcons are likely to be extra cautious with Freeman and Coleman throughout the preseason. The last thing they need is to go into the regular season with lingering effects from the hamstring strains. The offense is counting on a strong running game in the new outside zone blocking scheme, plus Freeman offers so much more with his pass-catching ability.
The Falcons don't have a full practice again until Monday. By then, it's likely to be undrafted rookie Terron Ward, second-year player Jerome Smith, and newcomer Michael Ford taking all the practice reps, unless another running back is signed. Jerome Smith had seven carries for 25 yards against the Titans while Ford had 11 carries for 20 yards and a touchdown. Ward carried the ball three times for 6 yards.