Coach Dan Quinn said Thursday that Freeman (groin/foot) is a candidate to return from injured reserve later in the season, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.
ANALYSIS: By virtue of being placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Freeman will have to miss at least the next eight weeks, making the Falcons' Dec. 23 game against the Panthers in Week 16 the earliest date he could return. Quinn noted that the Falcons' standing in the NFC playoff picture would likely dictate whether Freeman is activated, but the expectation is that the running back will be fully recovered from both injuries by late December. While it was a bone bruise in Freeman's foot that sidelined him for the Week 6 win over the Buccaneers, he elected to undergo surgery Thursday to address a groin injury that had also been plaguing him lately. While Freeman is on the mend, both Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith will be in line for enhanced roles out of the backfield.