FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- If team doctors would allow it, Rod Coleman would make his preseason debut this week when the Atlanta Falcons visit Buffalo.
Atlanta coach Bobby Petrino ruled out that scenario on Wednesday, adding that the Falcons likely won't permit Coleman to play until the season opener at Minnesota.
Coleman, a defensive tackle in his 10th NFL season, is tired of rehabbing his right leg. He's been grinding and sweating in the August heat while his teammates practice on adjacent fields.
At least Coleman has taken satisfaction in thus far beating timetables of doctors who repaired his torn right quadriceps in late April. The medical staff predicted he wouldn't play in a game until October.
"I was like, 'Man, do you know who y'all talking to?' I knew it wasn't going to take that long," Coleman said. "People may think it's unrealistic, but it just makes me push myself harder. One of my goals was to be back by the second or third game of preseason."
More delays have hardly improved Coleman's mood. The 6-foot-2, 297-pound Coleman doesn't take kindly to having little men like trainers giving orders, but that's what he has mostly endured the last three weeks.
"I think the doctors are being a little leery because there have only been five cases that an NFL player has had this type of injury," Petrino said. "There aren't a lot of studies of how soon people come back, but he does feel good, and I think he looks great. It is good to see him progress with the drills he's doing because he looks ready to play."
Despite leading interior linemen with 44.5 sacks since the start of 2003, Coleman's time on the field now consists of dropping into stance, bursting forward and simulating a pass rush.
He runs a few yards, takes a quick breath and starts the drill again.
"I'm like, 'Man, ya'll are just holding me back,"' Coleman said. "'Y'all are just wasting my time, now. You ain't got too much else for me to do. Y'all don't have any trainers that can resemble offensive linemen, so I'll just start throwing y'all around."'
While the Falcons were in the middle of the NFL draft, Coleman tore his quadriceps while riding a Jet Ski on Lake Lanier. His predicament looked worse when surgeons had to cut into the front of his right knee before repairing the muscle.
Coleman, though, made the best of a bad situation when he had doctors clean out loose cartilage before sewing up his knee.
"I told them my knee's been hurting for a couple of years now, so it's back to the way it used to feel, but it don't really bother me," Coleman said. "It's kind of the same old tendinitis. That's about it. That's the only pain I have, and once I start (playing), it goes away."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press