2020 Atlanta Falcons Season Preview: Keanu Neal

Christian Crittenden

Keanu Neal was on his way to being one of the best safeties in the NFL before two straight season-ending injuries forced his accession to come to a screeching halt. In only two seasons, Neal became a pro bower.

In 2018, Neal suffered a torn ACL in the season-opener against the Eagles. After a long offseason of rehab and he returned to the field for three games and then suffered an Achilles injury that ended his 2019 campaign.

Career Overview

The last time that Neal saw extend action on the field was in 2017 during his pro bowl campaign. That season, he recorded 116 tackles, four tackles for loss. Neal also intercepted a pass, had six pass deflections and forced three fumbles.

His rookie year was productive as well with 106 tackles, two tackles for loss, six passes defended and five forced fumbles. Neal, a former first-round pick out of, Florida came in making an immediate impact in 2016, helping lead the defense on the way to the teams Super Bowl run.

2020 Outlook

Neal has gone through another long offseason of rehab, but he should be ready to go once the season begins. He went on the Jim Rome show and mentioned how tough it was to suffer the injuries that he did.

“Going through two season-ending injuries like that was difficult,” Neal said. “But with God and everyone else around me supporting me, the plan that I have rehab wise I’m feeling great. It was tough but I’m glad to be back.

The Falcons have added more depth to the back end of their secondary now that they’ve had injury issues over the past few seasons. Ricardo Allen is back after missing 2018 as well. Damontae Kazee flourished in the absence of Neal and the team selected Jaylinn Hawkins in the fourth round of this year’s draft.

With the depth now, it will be important for Neal to regain as must of the 2017 form that he can to be effective for the Falcons on the field. The good thing is that Kazee is versatile so he can move around into different positions to give the Falcons more options. 

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