Atlanta Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris said Monday that Ito Smith is the team’s lead running back right now.
That means Todd Gurley will play the role of backup after managing just 34 yards rushing in his past three games, including one attempt for minus-1 yard in Sunday’s loss to the Buccaneers.
Morris said the demotion for Gurley isn’t about his knee — he missed a game against the Las Vegas Raiders last month due to injury — and more about Smith’s play.
“Ito’s performance,” Morris said when asked why the roles have changed for both players. “Ito’s played so well. When he’s gotten opportunities he’s made yards.”
Morris said he has been implementing the change slowly over the past few weeks and he has spoken with both players about the switch in roles.
Smith rushed for 65 yards on 12 attempts (5.42 yard average) and a touchdown in place of Gurley in that that Week 12 victory against the Raiders and is averaging 4.3 yards per rushing attempt this season. Overall, he has rushed for 213 yards in 12 games.
Gurley, in his first season with the Falcons, has rushed for 644 yards and nine touchdowns and is averaging 3.5 yards per carry.