Falcons likely to be cautious with Devonta Freeman before wild-card game

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Although running back Devonta Freeman is expected to be fine while dealing with a knee injury, the Atlanta Falcons are likely to be cautious with him leading into Saturday's game in the NFC wild-card round against the Los Angeles Rams.

Freeman was one of three Falcons who did not practice Tuesday along with top wide receiver Julio Jones (ankle/ribs) and lead return man Andre Roberts (knee/ankle). Freeman is not expected to run much over the next couple of days before the Falcons leave Thursday for Los Angeles.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn didn't speak in detail about the injury situation Tuesday but could reveal more about Freeman's status during Wednesday's media session. Quinn did talk about how players show their toughness this time of year by playing though pain, as center Alex Mack did while playing through a calf strain in last week's playoff-clinching when over the Carolina Panthers.

Freeman mentioned his injury after the game but didn't go into detail.

"I was talking to Alex Mack and Andy Levitre [Saturday] night, and they just said they've been in the league for nine years and they only made the playoffs two times, so that really stuck with me just to go out and keep battling," Freeman said. "And I was hurt. But everybody's hurt. Alex was super hurt and he went out and fought for us. That means a lot."

Freeman, who led the Falcons in the regular season with 865 rushing yards on 196 carries and had seven rushing touchdowns, missed two games with a concussion. He showed up on the injury report with a knee injury the week of the matchup with the Dallas Cowboys but started that game. He left that contest in the first quarter after suffering the concussion.

If Freeman suffers a setback, the Falcons always could turn to backup Tevin Coleman, a starting-caliber player. Coleman rushed for 628 yards on 156 carries during the regular season and tied Freeman with eight total touchdowns.

The Falcons certainly hope to have both running backs at full strength against a strong Rams defense led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The Rams' ability to bring pressure could make the screen game with Freeman and Coleman that much more important. Freeman had 16 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown over his past three games.