Falcons news: Keanu Neal out for the season with torn ACL
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Falcons safety Keanu Neal out for the season with torn ACL

Keanu Neal, Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons fell short in the season opener on Thursday night to the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, 18-12. In addition to the loss, the Falcons suffered a major blow to their secondary with star safety Keanu Neal being diagnosed with a torn ACL, effectively ending his 2018 season.

From ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Neal’s injury occurred in the first half of Thursday’s game. He returned to play in the second half prior to leaving the game altogether.

The loss of Neal is a huge blow to the secondary, as he emerged as a rising young star in the league at his position, earning his first Pro Bowl selection last year in his second NFL season after recording 116 tackles with three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and an interception. He became an anchor in the secondary that the Falcons were hoping could take the next step forward in his development this season.

This injury puts the Falcons in an intriguing spot, as there are still some viable safeties still available around the league, as they could look to sign former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid. The team could also pursue a trade for Pro Bowler Earl Thomas, who head coach Dan Quinn previously coached during his stint with the Seattle Seahawks. Each of these players could step up and make a significant impact while helping fill the void left by Neal’s absence.

Atlanta could also turn to an in-house replacement, as second-year safety Damontae Kazee is next on the depth chart. He stepped into the starting lineup on Thursday night, forcing Eagles rookie tight end Dallas Goedert to bobble a ball that led to an interception by teammatesDeion Jones. Kazee step into a key role in the secondary.