Atlanta Falcons' strong safety Keanu Neal suffered a torn Achilles tendon on Sunday, ending his season, coach Dan Quinn reported on Monday.
Neal was injured just before halftime of the Colts' loss as he fled to the end zone. He fell in pain, threw down his helmet and was in tears as he was driven off the field. Teammates said he yelled, "mine is — Achilles" after the injury. Neal has been spotted leaving Lucas Oil Stadium on crutches with a boot on his left foot.
Neal faces at least eight months after recovering from leaving only three games a season. The 2016 first round pick suffered a torn ACL in Week 1 of last season and missed the remainder of the 201
Neal's absence means the Falcons will be deprived of their forced quarterback. He has built a reputation for hard-hitting safety in a box capable of stopping the runway. But Neil has been working hard to improve his coverage skills, and it has shown.
Kemal Ismail, a hybrid safety protector listed as a backup of Neal at high security. The Falcons look like free agent options. They lost veteran safety JJ Wilcox to an ACL injury in the preseason. When Neal dropped last season, Quinn mentioned that he considered the lobby foyer Olwokoun a strong safety option.
As for Neal, he was expected to be signed up to a long-term extension at some point if he returned fully sound from the ACL rupture. The Falcons have already taken their fifth year option for 2020.
Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen, who tore his three Achilles three games last season, expressed his support for Neal.
"He understands the point, man. He was with me last year; I was with him," Alan said. "We understand what it takes to get back. We understand what this work [is and the toll] is about the body. He just needs to to continue to be a believer, to be strong and not to let him down, man. It's a long life. I have to keep that mind right. "