FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- As fantasy football owners ponder roster moves going into this season, no doubt there is some hesitation about how to dissect the Atlanta Falcons' running back situation.
Devonta Freeman was a fantasy hero last season as he exploded on the scene with 14 touchdowns, which tied for the NFL lead. Freeman had 264 rushing attempts and another 73 receptions.
Going into this season, there is persistent talk of second-year back Tevin Coleman, who had one touchdown on 89 touches last season, taking much of the load off Freeman. The coaches are extremely excited about Coleman's breakaway speed and big-play potential, provided he remains healthy and tackles the fumbling issues that plagued him last season.
So, will Coleman's expected emergence take too many opportunities away from Freeman? Falcons coach Dan Quinn doesn't view it in such a manner, especially with an unselfish player such as Freeman being a part of the equation.
"The best thing about Devonta is like he wants to show you," Quinn said. "He doesn't want to just talk about it. Like, 'I'm going to show you. I want to back it up.' He earns that right to know that we can totally count on him.
"They have a good relationship, both Tev and Free do. They're both competitors. You want the ball. Like if you're playing basketball, you want the last shot. But they both recognize, for us to be as good as we can be, both of them are going to have a really big role."
That being said, it would make sense for Freeman to wonder why he should give up any touches coming off a Pro Bowl season when he enjoyed so much success and rushed for 1,061 yards. Sure, he doesn't possess the same breakaway speed as Coleman, but Freeman runs hard on every play, is sure-handed and is smooth catching the ball and running routes.
Quinn's not worried about Freeman having ego issues.
"We want to know what's best for the team, so giving it to him every snap may not be the best way for us to win ballgames," Quinn said. "Could he do it? Is he tough enough? 100 percent. But for us to play at our best, we're going to feature both the guys and use their strengths.
"We're going to keep working on the things we've got to get better at. The third-down factor for both of them is going to be critical. That's a big role for us. That's over 300 plays a year and the blitz pickup, and the routes that come up, and the matchups that happen. So we're going to do our best to focus on all the things that those guys bring, and then we're going to isolate it."
Training camp, which starts Thursday, will give a glimpse of how much more the Falcons plan to incorporate Coleman. Quinn also talked about the possibility of giving Coleman touches as a kick returner with Devin Hester no longer on the team. However, Coleman has to completely convince the coaches he's handled his fumbling issue before they trust him in such a capacity.
Here's what Freeman said this offseason about his bond with Coleman and sharing the load:
"We bond as a team. There was never no [animosity] or nothing. That's my teammate. I'm happy when everybody gets their opportunity. I'm happy when anyone gets their shine. It's not about one individual on this team."