The Falcons are off to a flying start, but may not have one of their key offensive parts next week at Mile High Stadium.
According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, Falcons running back Tevin Coleman said he wasn’t sure he’d be able to play against the Broncos this week because he carries the sickle cell trait. The red blood cell disorder can cause complications for people who are under physical stress in hot weather or at high altitudes.
“With my sickle cell, I have no idea if I’ll play there,’’ Coleman said. “I really don’t know how I’ll feel or how it will be like. I’ve never been to Denver.’’
Former NFL safety Ryan Clark, who also has the sickle cell trait, once became ill and lost his spleen and gall bladder after a game in Denver, and then sat out two subsequent games including one in the playoffs. Other carriers, such as Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, have played there without incident.
Coleman was well aware of Clark’s past, which is why he’s unsure what he’s going to do.
“It does make me scared a little bit, a little nervous, because I’m risking my life,’’ Coleman said. “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.’’
Coleman has been pulled from practices because of extreme heat, and said they might just monitor his workload during the game. But he’s not certain, having never played at altitude, how he’ll react.
Coleman has 310 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns, splitting carries with Devonta Freeman for the 3-1 Falcons. But they’re the only running backs on the roster, so if they’re going to be short, they may need to make a roster move this week to add one.