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Cowboys Officially Sign Keanu Neal - And He Reunites With 'Father Figure'

Defensive coordinator Quinn is an “extra father figure for his players,'' said Cowboys new signee Keanu Neal

FRISCO - We already knew that former Atlanta Falcons coaches Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr., now running the Dallas defense, are working in an instrumental way to use NFL free agency to build the Cowboys defense. ... and that their connections might help do so.

But we never thought about it in a "father figure'' sort of way.

Defensive coordinator Quinn is an “extra father figure for his players,'' said Cowboys new signee Keanu Neal, who was a first-round pick in Atlanta when Quinn was the Falcons head coach.

Quinn, Neal said in a visit with our friends Jane Slater and Bobby Belt of NFL Network, "brings a lot of energy ... Very hands on. He will show or teach you in his Jordans.''

And top assistant .Joe Whitt Jr. who just joined Dallas’ staff as the top defensive aide, coming over from Atlanta after having also worked with Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy in Green Bay?

A “very smart coach,'' Neal said. "Very knowledgeable of the game.”

Neal officially signed his one-year, $5 million contract this week and will wear jersey No. 42 in Dallas. That's a change from his usual 22 in Atlanta (a number that isn't handed out by the Cowboys) ...

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And more alternations are coming for Neal.

"The game'' is going to change a bit for the 6-1, 216-pounder, who has been a strong safety by trade but who in Dallas will work a great deal with the linebackers and play a sort of "hybrid'' role.

McCarthy, meeting with the media recently here at The Star, praised Quinn as well, and shared some memories.

“I remember Dan when he was with the Dolphins and with the 49ers – just his reputation as a D-Line coach,'' McCarthy said. "And then obviously when he went to Seattle, he did a great, great job there. We’ve had some battles there. And then, frankly, down in Atlanta, they beat us in the NFC Championship Game in 2016. So I have a good history with Dan.”

And so does Keanu Neal.

READ MORE: Why Didn't Dallas Re-Sign Aldon Smith?