Safety Keanu Neal recovering well from ACL injury

Falcons safety Keanu Neal addresses his year recovering from a season-ending knee injury. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Falcons strong safety Keanu Neal said his time away from the field has helped him mentally, and he’s excited to be back with his teammates at training camp.

A first-round draft pick in 2016 out of Florida, Neal missed the entire 2018 season after tearing his ACL in the opening game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, with an offseason of recovery and mental focus, he's ready to make up for the time lost.

“It allowed me to see the game from a different view, support the guys and kind of build my game through that,” Neal said.

Entering his fourth season, Neal said his recovery has been smooth. Neal said he's not hesitant to plant his feet or run. He had a great support system, he said, adding that his coaches and teammates checked in on him often to make sure he was in a good place. In the first two practices of training camp, he has participated in drills and took reps with the first-team defense.

“So far, I feel good,” Neal said. “I’m excited to be back out there with the guys. I’m running around and playing. I’m just taking it day by day, and we’ll go from there.”

Neal hopes to pick back up where he left off. In 2017, he was named to the Pro Bowl after amassing 113 tackles and four forced fumbles. In total for his career, he has 220 tackles (154 solo) and eight forced fumbles.