The Atlanta Falcons announced on Friday that third-year safety Keanu Neal will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL on Thursday night against the Eagles.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn told media after the game that Neal’s injury “doesn’t appear to be anything serious,” but tests on Friday revealed the extent.
Left game in third quarter
Neal was tended to twice during the game: once in the second quarter, on a third-down play that saw the Eagles get new life when Atlanta’s Desmond Trufant was called for pass interference, and again on another third-down play in the third quarter.
He did not return after that.
The 17th overall pick in 2016, Neal was a Pro Bowler last season, after recording 113 total tackles, six pass break-ups, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and a pick.
Replaced by Damontae Kazee
When Neal went out, second-year safety Damontae Kazee stepped in. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that Kazee will be the next man up “for now” with Neal sidelined.
Kazee, a former San Diego State standout who was a fifth-round pick last year, drilled Eagles’ tight end Dallas Goedert as he was catching a fourth-quarter pass on Thursday night. Goedert couldn’t hang onto the ball, and Atlanta’s Deion Jones grabbed the loose ball out of the air, setting up a Falcons touchdown that gave them the lead.
Other options available
The Falcons may well stick with Kazee, but there are other veteran options available should they go that route: they could swing a trade with Seattle for Earl Thomas, though that would also carry a big financial cost; Tyvon Branch, who is coming off his own torn ACL suffered last November; or Eric Reid.
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