Devonta Freeman said his season on the sidelines only made him stronger.
The Falcons running back was at training camp Monday, where he described how not being able to play last year took a toll on him.
“It was depressing,” Freeman said, via the team’s website. “It was a down time for me. Because I couldn’t do what I loved to do. I was battling sometimes and some moments where I didn’t want to be bothered.”
Freeman suffered a groin injury in Week 1’s game against the Eagles. He was able to return in Week 5, but after two games he was put on injured reserve. His nonexistent 2018 season was a tough blow, especially after he dealt with a knee injury and missed two games in 2017.
“I think during his injury, what can happen sometimes, is the joy can get taken,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “The injury is not only physical, its mental. So where does the hunger to go, to push, to come back? It’s a lot like some fire to fuel you, but it’s not an easy process. The work that he put in, the closer he got back to playing again, the joy of that came back a little bit again. On to the field, the energy that he brings is pretty contagious. Having him back out was a big deal.”
He said to help cope through his recovery, Freeman reached out to athletes in the NBA and MLB to get advice on their routines.
“I got stronger from that,” Freeman said. “I got closer to God. I learned how to be patient more. I (learned) better people skills. All around the stuff that I couldn’t do, I took advantage of the stuff I could do. I have a greater appreciation for life.”
Freeman now is trying to get back to his form from the 2015 and 2016 seasons, each which saw him log more than 1,000 yards.
With Tevin Coleman now with the 49ers, he’s expected to be the primary back again and will have Ito Smith back him up. Brian Hill and Qadree Ollison will round out the running back corps.