Head coach Dan Quinn said that so long as Neal (knee) remains on the current trajectory he is on, it's "more than realistic" to believe he'll be ready to fully participate in team activities by the start of training camp, Kelsey Conway of the Falcons' official site reports. Quinn was upbeat about the status of starting safeties Neal and Ricardo Allen (Achilles) when speaking to the media after rookie minicamp Saturday, reporting that both players are "really pushing it from a rehab competitive side... (and) they're off to excellent starts with their process." That's welcomed news for a Falcons secondary that finished 27th against the pass last year with Neal missing 15 games as result of an ACL injury. Getting the 2017 Pro Bowler assimilated back into the defense quickly will be essential, as Atlanta must face top-13 passing offenses over each of the first three weeks of the regular season (Minnesota, Philadelphia and Indianapolis).
The Falcons officially exercised the fifth-year option on Neal's (knee) rookie contract Wednesday, Will McFadden of the team's official site reports. The decision comes as no surprise after general manager Thomas Dimitroff stated in February that the team planned to go in this direction. Neal is now officially under team control through 2020 and will be looking to rebound from an ACL injury that ended his 2018 season in Week 1. The safety was seen participating in workouts as recently as last week and appears to be on track to return well before the start of the 2019 campaign.
Neal (knee) was seen lifting weights Wednesday during the Falcons' voluntary workouts, D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Neal said last month that he doesn't have a firm timetable for when he expects to be 100 percent healthy, but the safety nonetheless appears to be making steady and tangible progress in his recovery from the torn ACL he suffered last September. In other news, there's been no word the fifth-year option on Neal's rookie contract has been picked up yet. Atlanta has until May 2 to make a decision on that front.
Neal (knee) said Sunday that "(he doesn't) want to put a timetable on things" when asked if he expects to be ready in time for training camp, Zig Fracassi of Sirius XM Sports reports. Neal's 15-game absence from the starting lineup was a clear detriment to Atlanta's secondary, with the Falcons ranking 27th against the pass in 2018 after averaging a 20th-place finish in that category between 2016 and 2017 when he suited up for 14-plus games. Though it was a serious injury that Neal suffered in tearing his ACL during a Week 1 loss to Philadelphia, the bright side is that the injury occurred so early in the season last year that he maintains a firm probability of being ready for Atlanta's preseason kickoff in 2019.
General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said the Falcons plan to pick up Neal's (knee) fifth-year option for the 2020 season, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports. Neal missed almost the entirety of the 2018 season as he suffered a torn ACL in Week 1 against the Eagles. The 2016 first-round pick may not be ready for Organized Team Activities in the spring, but he's expected to be good to go for training camp. The 23-year-old has started all 31 games he's appeared in with the Falcons and was a Pro Bowl replacement in 2017 after compiling 116 combined tackles, three forced fumbles and an interception. The team has until May 3 to provide Neal with official notice they are exercising the option.
|7||10/20||Los Angeles Rams||29|
|10||11/10||@New Orleans Saints||20|
|12||11/24||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6|
|13||11/29||New Orleans Saints||20|
|15||12/15||@San Francisco 49ers||14|
|17||12/29||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6|