Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman is off to a solid start for the 3-1 Falcons, running for 129 yards and four touchdowns.
However, he may have to take a week off soon when the Falcons travel to Denver to play the Broncos.
According to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure, Coleman carries the sickle cell trait, a genetic condition that can affect red blood cells. Sickle cell disease can create complications for individuals under high physical stress in extremely hot conditions or high altitude.
Coleman admitted to McClure that he’s not sure if he can play in Denver and that it makes him nervous.
“With my sickle cell, I have no idea if I’ll play there. I really don’t know how I’ll feel or how it will be like. I’ve never been to Denver.”
“It does make me scared a little bit, a little nervous, because I’m risking my life. We’ll have to see. I’ll have to talk to coach [Dan Quinn]. I guess coach will see how I feel when we get there. And I just have to communicate with him, if I am out there [playing], if I’m dead [tired] or can’t breathe. We just have to play it smart.”
Former NFL safety Ryan Clark, who also has sickle cell, played in Denver and struggled with complications after, losing a kidney and his gall bladder. He had to miss two games, including a playoff game. According to Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt, Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins also has sickle cell and has played in Denver without incident.
Coleman continued, “I know myself, and I know how it will affect me, but I’ll do a little more research of how it is in Denver because, like I said, I’ve never been there. I’ve never been nowhere with high altitudes.” He added he would be “bothered” if he had to miss the game.
As Gantt notes, aside from Devonta Freeman, who splits carries with Coleman, the Falcons don’t have another running back on the roster. If Coleman is unable to play, they may need to add another back to the roster.