To say the Atlanta Falcons have missed Keanu Neal over the last two years would be a drastic understatement.
Even typing out that sentence about the Atlanta Falcons and Keanu Neal is weird. It has been a little more than four years since the Falcons drafted the former Florida Gator with the 17th pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
Falcons fans lit up message boards, twitter and radio talk shows voicing their displeasure with general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn.
But man was everyone wrong.
This dude can play – he is a damn baller in every sense of the word. His highlight tape from his first two years would rival any safety over the last four decades – big hit after big hit. It seems like weekly Neal was lighting someone up.
He hits people so hard, at some point, all of us have uttered worry about his future knowing what we know about brain injuries from football. Yet, he keeps punishing people and popping right back up.
Keanu Neal’s injuries have taken a toll on both the player and the Atlanta Falcons
Unfortunately, the fifth year Atlanta Falcons safety has not had any of those highlights the last two years as he has missed 28 games combined in 2018 and 2019 due to injuries; tearing his ACL in 2019, and his Achilles in 2019.
The good news is that “The Matrix” told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week that he finally feels like himself.
"“I try not to look at the negatives. I try to think positive about it. I’ve [had] a lot of opportunities to spend time with my wife, family, friends, and groom myself personally. It’s been tough, but it’s been a great time.“I feel really good mentally and physically.”"
That is a great sign for the Atlanta Falcons as they really need the 2017 Pro Bowl selection back on the field helping to lead what will hopefully be a bounce-back season for both Neal as well as the Falcons.
The good news for both, when Neal has started at least 14 games in a season, the Falcons have made the playoffs and are 21-13 in games that he starts. Hopefully, that is a trend that we will see continue in 2020.