Four-pronged Falcons running game will give Ravens a challenge Sunday

"They've got four running backs that can start for anybody in the league," the Ravens' Dean Pees said.

Most of the attention on the Atlanta Falcons’ third-ranked offense is focused on quarterback Matt Ryan and his top three receivers, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Harry Douglas. But the Ravens defense has spent plenty of time this week game-planning for the Falcons running game.

Atlanta leans on four different backs, a group that includes veteran starter Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers, Antone Smith and rookie Devonta Freeman. Jackson is the workhorse, with 69 carries, but Freeman and Rodgers have 21 and 20 carries, respectively, while Smith has five touchdowns, including three receiving scores.

“They’ve got four running backs that can start for anybody in the league,” Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “I’m sitting there looking at numbers going, ‘Is this preseason?’ I mean, who the heck are all these guys? Are they all active? And they are. It’s like, ‘God dang.’ Every one of them has a little different kind of talent.”

End zone

Pees didn’t tip his hand about whether the Ravens would activate safety Will Hill to the 53-man roster in time for Sunday’s game, but Pees did say that Hill kept up with things well during his six-game suspension. “It will be interesting to see how he progresses, but we think he’s the real deal,” Pees said. … Veteran tight end Owen Daniels and inside linebacker Daryl Smith were given routine days off at practice. … Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was voted the NFL’s FedEx Air Player of the Week after throwing five touchdown passes in his first 16 minutes, 3 seconds against the Buccaneers. … Former Ravens quarterback Troy Smith was released Thursday by the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

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