FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Fourth-round pick Devonta Freeman said he felt like the No. 1 overall pick in the draft when he saw the opportunity awaiting him with the Falcons.
The former Florida State running back said his path to immediate playing time and a chance to be Atlanta's future starter make him believe he landed with the right team.
"I wanted to go second, third round," Freeman said. "But God had better plans for me. I feel like this plan is going to work out the best; better than guys that got picked ahead of me."
Falcons starter Steven Jackson will be 31 when the 2014 season begins. Longtime backup Jason Snelling retired. And Jacquizz Rodgers, 24, has not had 100 carries in any of his three seasons.
Coach Mike Smith said the 5-foot-8, 208-pound Freeman looks like a change-of-pace back but showed he could be a lead back during the three-day rookie minicamp that ended Sunday.
"If he can step up and be a good pass protector," Smith said, "he's got the chance to be a three-down back."
That "if" is big. Freeman knows he must earn the trust of star quarterback Matt Ryan.
"If you can block and protect that million-dollar quarterback, that's the main thing," he said. "Catching and running, I feel like that's the easy part of it. But blocking, that's something that you've got to have heart and stuff for. I take a lot of pride in that, so that's one of the things I'm going to work on the most."
BROWNS: Ex-NFL cornerback Aaron Glenn was hired as an assistant defensive backs coach.
LIONS: Coach Jim Caldwell said he anticipates star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will be at this week's minicamp. Suh, entering the final year of his contract, skipped a voluntary minicamp last month and has stayed away from voluntary workouts.
SAINTS: First-round pick Brandin Cooks, a receiver from Oregon State, signed. The only other first-rounders to sign are Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack (No. 5) and Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller (No. 14).