Falcons first-round pick Keanu Neal to have knee scoped, miss 3-4 weeks

ByVaughn McClure ESPN logo
Friday, August 26, 2016

Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick Keanu Neal will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Monday and will be sidelined three to four weeks, meaning he is expected to miss the Sept. 11 season opener against Tampa Bay.

Neal suffered the right knee injury in Thursday night's preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins. He missed a tackle attempt on running back Arian Foster and then went to the ground in pain. Neal was helped off the field and eventually walked to the locker room under his own power.

It was the second injury for Neal this preseason. He also missed the first preseason game against Washington with a "trunk" injury.

The Falcons already were down one strong safety with Neal's backup, Kemal Ishmael, sidelined with a shoulder injury. There has been no timetable for his return. The next strong safety in the rotation is Damian Parms.

Veteran William Moore, who started at strong safety for years for the Falcons, has been released and remains a free agent. But the former Pro Bowler said he hopes to generate interest from his old team after the injury to Neal.

"Absolutely I'd come back," Moore told ESPN. "It's home."

A second-round pick of the Falcons in 2009, Moore didn't fit well in coach Dan Quinn's scheme. But he vowed to alter his approach if given another opportunity.

"He's an awesome coach," Moore said of Quinn. "I absolutely loved playing for him, the short time I did have with him."

Neal is expected to have a significant impact on the defense upon his return. He is known for his hard-hitting style, and coaches say he's already mature beyond his years.