Falcons S Keanu Neal (ACL) lost for season


Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl strong safety Keanu Neal will miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Thursday's season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the team announced.

Neal twice departed the game because of left knee issues. He didn't return after the second injury occurred in the third quarter.

The tear was detected during an MRI exam on Friday.

Coach Dan Quinn said he didn't think Neal's injury was serious after Thursday's contest. But he and the Atlanta players were in a somber mood Friday after learning of the seriousness of the injury.

"That one hurts for us because he certainly exemplifies not only our style as a ballplayer but as a teammate, too," Quinn said in a press conference. "We're bummed for him, and that's certainly tough for us today."

Cornerback Desmond Trufant can't imagine looking over to the center of the field and not seeing Neal when the Falcons play the Carolina Panthers in Week 2.

"Obviously tough," Trufant said. "I feel for him. That's my brother. I mean, the crazy part about it is, I don't know how many plays he did on it. ... You can't replace a guy like that. We just have to pray for him and pick up the slack."

Second-year pro Damontae Kazee replaced Neal and figures to move into the starting lineup. Kazee opened eyes with a strong preseason and also delivered a big play in Thursday's game when his hit on Philadelphia tight end Dallas Goedert dislodged the ball and led to an interception by Deion Jones.

"We love Kazee's style," Quinn said. .".. Kazee has really improved. I think you guys have seen that through the offseason. He'll be ready for an extended (look), for sure."

Kazee, a product of San Diego State, was a 2017 fifth-round pick. Atlanta also recently acquired safety Jordan Richards from the New England Patriots.

Quinn also said the team will consider veteran Eric Reid, the free agent who has been bypassed by other teams partly due to his pattern for taking a knee during the national anthem. Reid formerly played for the San Francisco 49ers and has publicly backed Colin Kaepernick's stand against social injustice.

"We have talked about that," Quinn said about Reid. "We'd like to go in-house first. The reason that is is because of the addition of Jordan and the emergence of Kazee. We'll go down that road first. ... When you put a player down for the year on IR, there'll be some opportunities that we could look at as well. From a starting standpoint, we'll look at in-house first."

The 23-year-old Neal had one interception, two fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles last year during his second NFL season.

--Field Level Media