Falcons RB Tevin Coleman might not play in Denver due to sickle cell trait

Running back Tevin Coleman is a big part of the Atlanta Falcons’ 3-1 start, but he might take himself out of the lineup this week. For good reason.

The Falcons play at the Denver Broncos this week, and Coleman has sickle cell trait. Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder that can lead to health problems, especially in situations with low oxygen like Denver and its high altitude.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who carries the sickle cell trait, lost his spleen and gall bladder after becoming extremely sick from a 2007 game at Denver. Clark was held out of all subsequent Steelers games at Denver, including a playoff game at the end of the 2011 season.

Coleman told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com that he doesn’t know if he’ll play next week against the Broncos.

“It does make me scared a little bit, a little nervous, because I’m risking my life,’’ Coleman told ESPN.com. “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.”

Coleman said it would “bother me quite a bit” if he had to sit out. Coleman has 129 yards and four touchdowns as part of a two-headed running back attack with Devonta Freeman. The Falcons have been one of the surprise teams in the NFL, and are in first place of the NFC South after beating the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

It might not be easy for Coleman to sit out against the 4-0 Broncos on Sunday, but nobody could blame him if he did.

Tevin Coleman is considering not playing at Denver due to sickle cell trait (AP)
Tevin Coleman is considering not playing at Denver due to sickle cell trait (AP)

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!