As William McFadden let us know after practice today, Keanu Neal has shed a few pounds this offseason.
Keanu Neal says he's at 212 pounds right now after playing around 225 last season. He is lighter so he can move around better.
— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) August 20, 2020
It’s not surprising to see Neal drop a little weight after suffering another severe lower-body injury. A torn ACL is hard enough to come back from, but a torn Achilles is probably the worst injury an athlete can suffer short of a spinal issue. There may be some concerns raised about Neal’s hit power, but I still think his technique and football IQ will be more than enough to overcome the weight loss. And guys that know how to deliver the boom never forget it — it doesn’t matter what the scale says.
With Neal a little more swift out there, it’ll be interesting to see if Raheem Morris attempts to use him in coverage a little more. We’ve always seen Ricardo Allen play “center field,” and Neal could be a perfectly capable cover safety instead of a pure thumper if he’s picked up some speed.
McFadden also mentioned the Falcons are interested in running more three safety sets, which could be an attempt to keep Damontae Kazee on the field when the team is fully healthy. Regardless, I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s fantastic to have Keanu Neal back, and hopefully, he makes it a full 16 games. He’s a crucial part of this team and a great guy. Having him at 100% will be vital to the Falcons defense reaching its full potential.