FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (sore RIGHT knee) will not play against the Panthers on Sunday, coach Dan Quinn said Friday.
Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Freeman, who suffered a sprained posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee in the regular-season final against Carolina, was slowed in the playoffs. He didn’t have offseason surgery and was hit on the same knee late in the season opener against Philadelphia.
He was pulled from the game and didn’t practice at all this week.
Freeman, guard Ben Garland (calf) and wide receiver Russell Gage (knee) were declared out by Quinn.
“We hope it is not a long-term thing,” Quinn said. “When he can be (explosive) , we are certainly hope that is closer than (long-term).”
Running back Tevin Coleman will carry most of the load. He’ll be backed up by rookie Ito Smith.
Also, Brian Hill will be available after he was called up from the practice squad.
“It is (the same knee),” said Quinn of Freeman’s injury. “But nothing is structurally wrong with it. He got hit on it and it’s sore. It bruises up, gets sore and you can explode on it. He’s such a unique player. When you can’t do your stuff. You can’t do it.
“It’s unfortunate. It’s not a long-term issue we are hopeful. Certainly, we have capable guys for this weekend. We are bummed that he’s not going to be there, but hopefully it won’t be long.”
Freeman rushed six times for 36 yards and caught three passes for 14 yards in the 18-12 loss to the Eagles. He also gave up a sack to Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks while in pass protection.
Freeman played 39 of 70 offensive snaps (56 percent), Coleman played 36 of 70 snaps (51 percent).
Left guard Andy Levitre (left elbow), cornerback Isiah Oliver (right ankle) and cornerback Brian Poole (ankle) were limited Thursday.
Wide receiver Marvin Hall (ankle), long snapper Josh Harris (left hip), tight end Austin Hooper (knee), fullback Ricky Ortiz (neck) and cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson (shoulder) fully participated in practice Thursday.
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