Falcons running back Tevin Coleman, the young father of two six-month old twins, was born premature – 10 weeks early and weighed just three pounds.
He’s been fighting every since.
Coleman is elated that his twins, Nazaneen and Nezerah, were both born healthy on Nov. 25.
“They are amazing,” Coleman said on Wednesday after the team’s OTA session. “They are getting real big. They are starting to smile and do a lot of things.
“It was definitely good to know that they were healthy and that they didn’t have to go through what I went through growing up.”
The twins, a girl and a boy, have Liberian-Palestinian names. With Coleman and their mother combining the heritages in the names.
“It’s been amazing, just great,” Coleman said. “Seeing those kids every day with a smile. When they see me, they smile. It just brings joy to my heart. It’s an amazing feeling.”
The 25-year-old Coleman, 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, was drafted in the third round (73rd overall) of the 2015 NFL draft. The explosive running back is set to enter his fourth season with Falcons.
Fatherhood has changed his entire outlook on life.
“Just like with everything in the world, I have to keep myself safe for them,” Coleman said. “I’m always thinking about them and doing stuff for them.
“We went to the aquarium the other day. They loved that. It was pretty fun.”
Coleman shares running back duties with Devonta Freeman and provides the Falcons with perhaps the most lethal one-two combination in the league.
Coleman has a simple offseason routine.
“Wake up and get a nice and healthy breakfast,” said Coleman, whose parents move to the United States from Liberia. “Get in the hot tub and work out.”
Coleman, who is a descendant of a former President of Liberia, has returned to the county to help fight abject poverty.
“I haven’t went this year because of the babies, but hopefully over the offseason next year I’m going to try to get back down there and do some work,” Coleman said.
Coleman rushed for a career-high 628 yards and five touchdowns last season. He also runs routes like a receiver, according to quarterback Matt Ryan. A nightmare for linebackers to cover, Coleman caught 27 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns.
Coleman, as he heads into the final year of his rookie contract, plans to build on the fine start to his career.
“For me, I just want to stay consistent in everything I do,” Coleman said. “Keep doing what I’m doing. For the offense, of course, we want to be the best offense. We want to definitely finish, keep the ball and make plays.”
The Falcons have added new wrinkles to the offense this offseason and some include the fast and powerful Coleman.
“They want to use me more,” Coleman said. “Line me up out wide and stuff like that. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
The Falcons left no stone unturned in the offseason. Coleman has things to work on, too.
“Just not cutting on my inside leg,” Coleman said. “Sometimes I cut with my inside leg. I need to use my outside leg.”
Falcons coach Dan Quinn is expecting big things from Coleman.
“We’ve tried really to get (really) involved with our running backs in the passing game as well,” Quinn said. “I thought he made a big jump last year with (former running backs coach) Keith Carter with his pass protection. That part really came to life.”
Coleman’s workload has increased each season. He had 89 touches (rushes and catches) as a rookie followed by 149 and 163 the next seasons.
“Now, we want to make sure that we’re really featuring him and Devonta (Freeman) in as many ways as we can,” Quinn said. “So, whether if it’s outside or leaving them in the backfield. The amount of catches and touches that we can get for those guys ... we know how explosive they are.”
Coleman has hit off with new running backs coach Bernie Parmalee.
“He’s cool,” Coleman said. “He’s amazing. He’s a good coach. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
The Falcons signed Freeman to a six-year, $43 million contract last season. Coleman has a base salary of $791,268 for the 2018 season and if the Falcons can’t work out an extension, he’ll become a free agent.
Teams rarely have two running backs with hefty contracts, although Carolina did it with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Williams signed a five-year, $43 million deal in 2011. Stewart signed a five-year $36.5 million in 2013. The two were on the roster together from 2008-14.
Coleman is aware of his situation and knows a big payday is looming from him and the twins.
“I feel pretty good,” Coleman said. “I just want to keep getting better. Doing it day by day with myself. I just want to get better and be consistent. I know if I do that, everything will go my way and go how I want it to go.”