The Atlanta Falcons managed to eke out a close win against the Carolina Panthers Bank of America Stadium yesterday, coming out on top in the 19-17 affair.
But it wasn't all smiles for the Falcons as they will have to continue their quest for an NFC South title without one of their most explosive playmakers.
Running back Antone Smith suffered a broken leg in the game against the Panthers and is done for the season, the team announced today.
Smith is in his fifth year with the Falcons but was rarelly involved in the offense until this season, when he has made a number of big plays.
Although he’s listed as third on the depth chart behind both Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers, Smith has been a significant contributor this year making some particularly eye catching appearances against the Vikings, Giants and Bears.
The 29-year old Smith was averaging 6.3 yards a carry as a runner and 17.1 yards a catch as a receiver out of the backfield and had scored five touchdowns before the injury.
Rookie running back Devonta Freeman will likely see the ball more often with Smith out. Freeman had six carries for 28 yards after Smith went down yesterday.
“Antone has done some good things for us not only on special teams—he’s a special-teams ace—but he’s also a guy that when he touches the ball he has the ability to take it the distance.,” coach Mike Smith said. “He’s created a lot of explosive plays for us and he is someone who will be missed. But it gives other guys a chance to get more touches.”
Atlanta, which is currently in first place in the NFC South at 4-6, hosts Cleveland on Sunday.