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Devonta Freeman: I want to be 'real disrespectful'

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Falcons running back Devonta Freeman wants to establish himself as less of a defender-friendly running back in 2017.

"Little things like breaking arm tackles," Freeman told reporters Tuesday when talking about what he needs to improve on. "Running through -- I feel like I could get better helping our offensive linemen out. They bust their butts. They don't get to rotate. The only time they get a break is if we score a touchdown and the defense goes on the field. But if we have an 18-play drive, they're on the field the whole game. Helping those guys out by giving them a blow by breaking a big tackle -- last year I left some runs out there. Open field, continue to make guys miss. Punishing guys.

"I just want to be real disrespectful this year when it comes to football."

While it will be difficult to quantify Freeman's progress throughout the offseason given the relatively hands-off nature of the preseason and training camp, some of Freeman's previous work should indicate that he's already well on his way.

It's nice of the running back to stick up for his offensive line, though there are also plenty of examples of Freeman tossing defenders in 2016. Two of our favorites can be found here and here.

Freeman was one of the NFL's most prolific tackle-breakers in 2015 per Pro Football Focus -- part of the reason he's been able to fend off Tevin Coleman and maintain a slight 0.4 yards per carry advantage over the Falcons' No. 2 back. Should he be able to expand on those capabilities somehow, Atlanta may be looking at more of a featured role for Freeman in 2017.

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