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Down three top running backs, Atlanta Falcons sign another

As Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Antone Smith recover from hamstring injuries, the Atlanta Falcons signed another running back to add depth at the position.

Evan Royster, formerly a sixth-round draft pick of the Washington Redskins out of Penn state, was one of three players the Falcons signed Sunday along with linebacker Terrell Manning and cornerback Travis Howard. The Falcons released offensive lineman DeMarcus Love.

Royster, 27, played under Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan when Shanahan held the same title with the Redskins. The Washington Post reported a lack of speed as the reason Royster didn't last in Washington.

The Falcons seem confident about Freeman, Coleman and even Smith being ready for the regular season. The hamstring strains Freeman and Coleman suffered during the first week of training camp were two-week injuries, at minimum. Neither played in Friday's exhibition opener against the Titans, although both suited up for pregame warmups and participated in individual drills. Freeman injured his right hamstring, while Coleman's is unclear.

Smith injured his hamstring on a 1-yard touchdown run in Friday's 31-24 win over the Titans. The medical staff looked at his left leg after he limped to the sideline.

With the roster move made Sunday, the Falcons now have a running back rotation of undrafted rookie Terron Ward, second-year player Jerome Smith, recently signed Michael Ford and Royster. That seems likely to be the foursome for Friday's preseason game in New York against the Jets.

As for the signing of Manning and Howard, Falcons coach Dan Quinn will provide more clarity on the team's intentions following Monday's practice.

The team is a little bit banged up at cornerback with starter Desmond Trufant recovering from a shoulder injury and reserve Dezmen Southward not fully recovered from a knee scope. But the signing of Howard doesn't necessarily mean Trufant's status is a significant concern.

Manning has name recognition after being selected by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL draft. He's been with seven different teams and has played in games with the Packers, Chargers, Bears and Giants.

Howard was picked up as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans in 2013. He also spent time on the practice squads for both the Patriots and Giants.