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Falcons SS Keanu Neal leaves game vs. Panthers with an ankle injury

Neal left the field in the second quarter.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons are without their starting strong safety against the Carolina Panthers. Keanu Neal, the team’s first round pick in 2016, left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury.

The team ruled Neal questionable to return, but on the game broadcast, the announcers said Neal was doing sprints on the sideline.

Neal missed the first few games of the season after suffering a knee injury and undergoing minor surgery to repair it. He has 98 tackles, four forced fumbles, and six pass breakups so far this season.

The Falcons’ defense has limited the Panthers’ offense today. Atlanta has allowed a few big plays, but overall, the defense has been reasonably stout, keeping the Panthers from converting third downs and getting into the end zone. This will be harder to maintain unless Neal is able to return.

The Falcons currently lead the Panthers 13-3 in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.