The Atlanta Falcons running back is having groin surgery and will be placed on injured reserve, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. The move will keep Freeman out at least the next eight games.
FOX Sports' Jay Glazer first reported the move to IR.
"Following the game against Pittsburgh, where Devonta injured his foot, we thought he was just having general soreness in his groin area," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said, via the team site. "As the week went on it continued so we decided to have him get some tests. It has been determined that he will need a procedure that will result in us placing him on injured reserve. We are hopeful he will be able to return this season, but we will have a better feel for that in the coming weeks."
Theoretically, Freeman could be a candidate to return from IR after missing eight weeks, but the timing -- and the Falcons' 2-4 record -- might make that a longshot.
Freeman, who signed a six-year $43 million contract last year, played in just two games this season, compiling 68 rushing yards on 14 attempts, and five receptions for 23 yards. The 26-year-old back missed Weeks 2-4 with a knee injury suffered in the season opener. He returned in Week 5 but suffered a foot injury and a groin issue that knocked him out last week.
The groin trouble, which seemed to pop up out of the blue last week, is what will ultimately shelve Freeman.
With Freeman out, Tevin Coleman will be the lead back for Atlanta as they try to dig themselves out of an early-season hole. Coleman is a dual-threat wizard who can run between the tackles, catch passes out of the backfield, and owns explosion in space. The 25-year-old is in a contract year, so teams interested in bidding on the back in free agency will get to see how he holds up as the primary ball-carrier. Through just six games, the 210-pound back has carried the ball 71 times (11.8 rushes per game) for 260 yards. His career high is 156 totes in 15 games last season (10.4).
Freeman's absence will also mean an increase in snaps for impressive rookie Ito Smith. In Sunday's victory, the fourth-round pick out of Southern Miss played a career-high 29 offensive snaps, splitting reps with Coleman (Coleman 58 percent of snaps; Smith 45 percent). Smith has compiled 102 yards on 32 carries this season, but has a nose for the end zone, scoring a touchdown in each of the last three games.