For the second straight season, Falcons safety Keanu Neal‘s season has ended with a devastating injury. Neal is believed to have torn his Achilles during the team’s loss to the Colts earlier today, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).
The Falcons placed Neal on IR and promoted safety Jamal Carter from their practice squad, per Howard Balzer of BalzerFootball.com (on Twitter).
Obviously, his year is over. Rapoport writes that Neal will have surgery this week, and “should be good to go well before the 2020 season.” In Week 1 of last year Neal tore his ACL, and this latest injury was to the same leg. Atlanta picked up his fifth-year option earlier this offseason, keeping him under team control through 2020. The good news for him is that option year was fully guaranteed for injury at around $6.7MM and assuming he can’t pass a physical on the first day of the new league year, he’ll get that cash no matter what.
Neal has been a good player when healthy, but he’ll now have missed 28 games over the past two seasons. It’s a tough blow for a Falcons defense that already hasn’t looked great this year and was one of the most injured units in the league last year. Atlanta drafted the Florida product in the first-round back in 2016.
He started all 16 games in 2017, racking up 113 tackles, six passes defended, and an interception. The Falcons’ secondary got diced up by Jacoby Brissett on Sunday, and now they’ll be without one of its key cogs moving forward. They currently sit at 1-2 and will host the Titans in Week 4.
A UDFA out of Miami, Carter spent two years with the Broncos. He missed all of the 2018 season and was moved to linebacker in training camp. The Broncos waived him prior to the regular season’s outset, however, leading him to the Falcons’ taxi squad. Carter is back at safety and will likely fill in as a backup for the Falcons, who also lost J.J. Wilcox to a season-ending injury earlier this year.
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