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Who Are Top 5 Falcons Running Backs of All-Time?

The Atlanta Falcons as a franchise have had their ups and downs through the decades. But one of the constants, even in the dark times, was standout running backs.

The Atlanta Falcons as a franchise have had their ups and downs through the decades. But one of the constants, even in the dark times, was standout running backs.

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We take a look at the top five Atlanta Falcons running backs of all time.

5. Jamal Anderson ('94-'01)
The Numbers - 5,336 yards, 34 TDs, 1,645 receiving, 7 TDs

Nicknamed "Phat Phat" because of his gigantic legs, Anderson quietly broke 1,000 yards in 1996 and 1997 as the Falcons went 3-13 and 7-9 in those seasons respectively.

But it was that 1998 season in which Anderson broke a record for carries in a season by an NFL running back, made the Dirty Bird famous, and led Atlanta to a 14-2 record and the team's first Super Bowl berth.

Anderson's 1,846 yards rushing that season set the franchise record that still stands today.

Anderson's knee gave out in 1999 in the second game of the season, but he returned in 2000 to rush for 1,024 yards. He tore the ACL in his other knee at the beginning of 2001, and his career was over. 

4. Warrick Dunn ('02-'07)
The Numbers
- 5,981 yards, 30 TDs, 1,635 receiving 8 TDs

Dunn didn't start his career with the Falcons. He was a feature back and two-time Pro-Bowler with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before moving to Atlanta.

Dunn spent six seasons with the Falcons, and like a fine he seemed to improve with age. Dunn's best season as a pro was in 2005 at 30 years old. He had 1,416 yards rushing and added another 220 receiving. 

Dunn was added to the Falcons Ring of Honor earlier this year. His Warrick Dunn Charities has built nearly 200 homes for families in need.

3. Michael Turner ('08-'12)
The Numbers
- 6,081 yards, 60 TDs, 457 receiving, 1 TD

A two-time Pro-Bowler with the Falcons, Turner had been a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego before getting a move to Atlanta. It was a shrewd move by the Falcons, because in his first season as a full-time starter, Turner rushed for 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Turner put together a five year run that was arguably the best by an Atlanta running back with 6,081 yards and a whopping 60 touchdowns. He had double digit touchdowns every season he played for Atlanta.

It was a swift decline and exit for Turner. He saw a dropoff in production in 2012, and he never played again in the NFL after being released by the Falcons after that season.

2. Gerald Riggs ('82-'88)
The Numbers
- 6,631 yards, 48 TDs, 1,284 receiving

Gerald Riggs is the Atlanta Falcons all-time leading rusher. Riggs was the lone bright spot in a dark period for the Falcons. The team went 35-68 during his seven seasons with Atlanta, and the only winning campaign they had was a strike shortened 5-4 record in 1982.

His 1984 and 1985 seasons saw him rush for 1,486 yards and 1,719 yards respectively. The latter is the second highest in franchise history behind Anderson's 1,846 in 1998.

Riggs was a three time Pro-Bowl selection in Atlanta after the '85, '86, and '87 seasons. He probably deserved it more in 1984 after his 1,486 yards than '87 when he had 875 yards.

The wear and tear of 1,093 carries from '84-'86 saw his production drop dramatically, and he moved to the Washington Redskins.

While he only rushed for 1,557 yards in three seasons with Washington, he was a short yardage specialist in 1991 who had 11 touchdowns on just 78 carries. Washington won the Super Bowl that year and Riggs retired.

One of the more remarkable stats for Riggs' career, he had 201 receptions for 1,516 yards, but he never had a receiving touchdown.

1. William Andrews ('79-'86)
The Numbers
- 5,986 yards, 30 TDs, 2,647 receiving, 11 TDs

A third round draft pick out of Auburn, Andrews hit the ground running as a rookie with the Falcons.

He had three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons to start his career. Only the strike in 1982 could slow him down. In nine games that year he had already broken 500 yards rushing AND receiving.

It was Andrews' ability as a weapon out of the backfield that elevates him to the top of this list. He's the Falcons all-time leader in yards from scrimmage as a running back with 8,633.

In 1983, Andrews' final healthy season with Atlanta, he had 1,567 yards rushing and 609 yards receiving. It's not Dunn or Devonta Freeman who is Atlanta's all-time leading receiver out of the backfield; it's Andrews.

Andrews was a Pro-Bowl selection in four of his first five seasons in the NFL, but he was never the same after a knee injury wiped out his entire 1984 and 1985 seasons.

He returned to the Falcons in 1986, but he only had 52 carries for 214 yards as health and Riggs limited his opportunities.

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