In 2018, the Atlanta Falcons found themselves with injuries across the board. Arguably, the most impacted spot was the safety group, where the team lost both starters Ricardo Allen (torn Achilles) and Keanu Neal (torn ACL). Both returned for the 2019 regular season healthy, but in Week 3, Keanu Neal went down with a torn Achilles against the Indianapolis Colts.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn recently spoke with Kelsey Conway of AtlantaFalcons.com about Keanu Neal’s progression on returning to the field in 2020.
“He’s doing good, he’s exactly where he should be, you know going through the process for him,” Quinn said. “He’s making great progress but same thing for him, that’s my expectation for him is just throwing like a hell of a rehab to go, and he knows what that looks like – you know in terms of length or rehab although, Achilles and ACL have different rehabs, for him knowing that he’s back running, he’s back doing the things that he needs to do, that’s a big step for him.”
When both Allen and Neal were placed on injured reserve in 2018, and losing Neal again in 2019, Damontae Kazee stepped up and started at safety. In 2018, Kazee finished the season tied for the most interceptions in the league and in 2019, was fourth in tackles on the Falcons. With the possibility of having Allen, Neal and Kazee at full health entering the 2020 regular season, it’ll be interesting to see how the safety rotation plays out.
“We’ll make sure we do a very good job of featuring the guys and the things that they do best,” Dan Quinn said. “So having more than enough good players is way better than the alternative. Trust me, between myself, Raheem [Morris] and Jeff Ulbrich, we’ll have many unique ways to feature all of them.”
Obviously the most important thing we learned is that Keanu Neal is on track to return in 2020, as there really hasn’t been any updates on his health in recent months. This should put the minimal speculation that they could save $6.466 million by moving on from Neal, and only increase the curiosity of how the three safeties will be used in the defense next season.
If you’d like to watch Dan Quinn’s full interview, you can check it out below.