Falcons' Tevin Coleman ruled out for Bucs game

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman has been ruled out for Monday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because of a concussion.

Coleman sustained the concussion during the Falcons' 20-17 win over the New Orleans Saints, Dec. 7. He did not receive full clearance despite the extra time between games. The third-year player from Indiana spent Friday running with the ball on a side field while continuing to go through the rehab process.

Coleman currently leads the Falcon with seven touchdowns. The Falcons are likely to rely more on starting running back and two-time Pro Bowler Devonta Freeman, who appears to be back in a rhythm after missing two games with a concussion. Freeman leads the Falcons with 680 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on 152 carries. He also has 144 yards receiving on 20 catches. Freeman hasn't shown any hesitation coming off his third concussion since November of 2015.

"Just something you've been doing your whole life, you don't know no better,'' Freeman said of maintaining his rugged style. "No other way. You're going to play how you play. ... I approach it the same way: Just go out and play football.

"Nothing changes. Freak injuries can happen to anybody in this league, and it has happened to guys in this league. You can't change nothing about your game.''

Terron Ward moves into the backup role behind Freeman with Coleman out.

Coach Dan Quinn also ruled out starting left guard Andy Levitre, who is recovering from a left triceps injury. Ben Garland will start his second consecutive game in place of Levitre.

The 8-5 Falcons, currently the sixth seed in the NFC playoff picture, have a chance to win the NFC South title and earn at least one home playoff game by winning their final three regular season games -- all against division opponents. After Monday night's contest in Tampa, the Falcons travel to New Orleans for a Christmas Eve matchup with the Saints. The Falcons finish the season at home against Carolina.