The Falcons have thrown a curve ball with how they’ll address Keanu Neal’s absence at strong safety.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution saw that strong safety Jordan Richards was running with the first team pre-game, indicating he’s likely to get the start.
The former Patriot came over for a conditional seventh before the season began and was assumed to just be decent depth. But in wake of Neal’s injury, the team had to find someone to fill that void, at least partially.
The word before Sunday was that Damontae Kazee would play free safety while Ricardo Allen would slide over to Neal’s spot, among other coverage ideas, but now, it looks like we’ll be getting a healthy dose of Richards. It’s also quite possible that Richards will be on the field in obvious run situations, where he’s a more useful player, and that Kazee will rotate on when the Falcons are in nickel. If so, Richards will be a starter in name only.
His reputation coming from Foxborough comes with some reasons for trepidation, but Atlanta will need him to step up and play his best ball as the team faces a crucial divisional game against the Panthers. We’ll know soon enough if he answers the call.