Atlanta saw a raft of injuries Thursday night in a miserable effort against the Dolphins, but thankfully most of those injuries were very minor. Keanu Neal, however, is going to miss some regular season time, which complicates the roster picture for Atlanta.
I had anticipated that the Falcons would carry just four safeties heading into the year, and they still may elect to do that. Being without Neal means that Atlanta is going to have to lean on Kemal Ishmael as the starter at strong safety initially, with Ricardo Allen at the other spot. That isn’t the best configuration in the league by any means, but Allen was solid last year and may be better in 2016, and Ishmael has always played well in run support and racked up turnovers to make up for his shaky coverage ability, so the Falcons can certainly survive that.
With Ishmael battling an injury already, though, the intriguing stuff will happen further down on the roster, especially with Dashon Goldson working out for Atlanta today. I have to think Robenson Therezie is in, given how much the coaching staff appears to like the second year undrafted free agent, but that still leaves Atlanta needing a fourth safety in case injury strikes yet again.
Their choices are Damian Parms, who got significant run Thursday night and played solidly enough, or Sharrod Neasman, who I liked as a UDFA but has been relatively quiet thus far. There’s also Brian Poole, who has some experience at both cornerback and safety and could be a logical choice as an option to fill either role on the back end of the roster.
I dismissed Parms’ chances Friday, but that was before I knew Neal was going to miss time, and now I do think he’ll wind up latching on and spending at least a week or two on the roster, with Poole probably grabbing one of the last cornerback spots. The sooner the Falcons get Neal back and healthy, though, the sooner this goes from being a bit of a trouble spot to potentially a young, strong position group, given that Ishmael and Therezie are very capable reserves. The wrinkle will be whether or not the Falcons add Goldson to this group.