Another game, another Falcons’ defensive starter is out for the season.
Free safety Ricardo Allen suffered a torn Achilles tendon in overtime of the 43-37 loss to the Saints Sunday and was ruled out for the season on Monday. He will be placed on injured reserve.
The Falcons were already playing without strong safety Keanu Neal (knee surgery), linebacker Deion Jones (broken foot), defensive end Takk McKinley (groin) and defensive end Derrick Shelby (groin).
“We will not play the role of the victim with the injuries,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said on Monday. “We have a locker room full of tough competitive guys. I expect us to play well and we will.”
The Falcons are 1-2 and in last place in the NFC South. They were understandably somber after the game and after coming out of meetings on “Tell The Truth Monday.”
“We have to move on because the games are going to keep coming,” defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said. “Teams are going to keep coming , bringing their best. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us.”
Cornerback Desmond Trufant said, “We just have to adjust. Keep pushing and keep believing in each other.”
Allen, who’s considered the quarterback of the defense, will be replaced full time by Damontae Kazee, who was already starting.
“The plan at free safety is Damontae Kazee,” Quinn said. “He’s totally equipped and ready for this role. He had a terrific mentor over the last year and a half with Ricardo…. He will certainly be the starting free safety moving forward.”
Kazee has started the last two games at free safety, while Allen was taking on more of Neal’s strong safety role. Jordan Richards was being groomed to play more of the strong safety role in the box.
But when asked about strong safety, Quinn did not answer directly, suggesting more moves for the secondary.
“We’ll go there,” Quinn said looking at strong safeties. “(Keith) Tandy is here. (Kemal Ishmael) has a background in that as well. We’ve got some candidates for that spot. We have to work some guys in behind Kazee. That will be an area of focus for us this week.”
The Falcons are not interested in signing a high-profile replacement like former San Francisco safety Eric Reid or getting in the trade derby for Seattle free safety Earl Thomas.
Reid, who has started 69 games in the NFL, is known for kneeling during the national anthem when he played for the 49ers.
“No, not at all,” Quinn said when ask if Reid’s anthem stance had anything to do with the team not pursuing him. “I recognized where the question goes, but a lot of things go into that. Contractually, that’s one that goes in to it with all players. But nothing from an off-the-field standpoint.”
In meetings with general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons apparently discussed Thomas and made some calls to agents of other veteran safeties.
“We’ll have some workout guys, but not in the starting role,” Quinn said. “That will be Kazee. .... As far as the roster depth goes with Ricardo going to IR, we’ll likely be looking to add to the safety spot, but the free safety will be Kazee.”
Thomas, a six-time Pro Bowl player and three-time All-Pro, is disgruntled in Seattle, where he played under Quinn when the coach was defensive coordinator from 2013 to 2014. Quinn was the defensive line coach in Thomas’ rookie season in 2010.
Quinn didn’t want to speak directly about Thomas.
“From a hypothetical standpoint, we really believe in Keanu and Rico,” Quinn said. “So, when you do bring in a player, where does that player fit in moving forward? The next piece of that, who’s next in line and we’re thinking Damontae.”
Apparently, Quinn didn’t feel the Falcons were in a dire-enough straits to go after Thomas.
“Had it not been the case, then I’d say ‘hey man, we need to go out and make that move,’ ” Quinn said. “If I felt that way I really would have pushed for it hard. That’s not where I’m at.”
With all of the players missing, the Falcons gave up 534 total yards and looked confused at times against the Saints, who scored touchdowns on their last four possessions.
The Saints scored on eight of 12 possessions, including five touchdowns.
“It’s football, you’re going to get hurt, you’re going to have nicks and bruises,” cornerback Robert Alford said. “So, all we can do is go back, watch film from today and see what we can correct.”
Alford believes he and the rest of the secondary will step up their level of play.
“I try to step my game up each and every week no matter who’s on the field,” Alford said. “That’s just me, I’m my biggest critic. I always go back the night of the game and just watch my technique and watch the things I can do.”
Some of the other veteran safeties available include Mike Mitchell, T.J. Ward and Tyvon Branch.
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