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Falcons defensive reinforcenments Keanu Neal, O'Brien Schofield could return soon


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Falcons defensive reinforcenments Keanu Neal, O'Brien Schofield could return soon

Vaughn McClure

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons are on pace to add at least two fresh defensive pieces, including their first-round draft pick.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said rookie safety Keanu Neal, who hasn't played this season after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in the preseason, is expected to return to practice Thursday on a limited basis. Also, free agent outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield, considered one of the team's strong voices last season, told ESPN.com he expects to re-sign with the Falcons this week, although the move is not quite official.

Adding Neal and Schofield should be a positive as the Falcons head into their Week 3 showdown with the rival New Orleans Saints on ESPN's "Monday Night Football". Neal showed in the preseason that he's capable of swarming the field as a hard-hitting tackler, something the Falcons could use after missing 10 tackles in their 35-28 win at Oakland. However, Neal's replacement, Kemal Ishmael, had 15 tackles and a key fourth-down stop against the Raiders, which might allow the coaches to be patient before inserting Neal into the lineup.

"It's the tackling down in the box, that's where he's featured best," Quinn said of Ishmael. "When Keanu's able to come back, Ish will certainly still have a role in doing what we do. He is very reliable in terms of his tackling, his approach."

Regardless, the Falcons expect the return of Neal to boost the defense.

As for Schofield, he's expected to come back and fill the same strongside linebacker role he played near the end of last season, with some pass-rush responsibilities sprinkled in. Right now, the Falcons are using Vic Beasley Jr. and Philip Wheeler at that spot. With Schofield in the mix, Wheeler could go back to playing inside linebacker, because rookie inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell is recovering from an ankle injury with no timetable for a return.

Schofield spent extensive time this summer working alongside former Seattle Seahawks teammate Michael Bennett to improve his pass-rush skills. Last season, Schofield had two sacks and was second on the team with 13 quarterback hits.

The Falcons enter Week 3 with just one sack, by Beasley, and that came after Raiders quarterback Derek Carr scrambled out of bounds for no gain. Seven-time Pro Bowl pass-rusher Dwight Freeney, who was signed in the preseason, hasn't contributed much as of yet.

Quinn offered his assessment of the pass rush thus far.

"It's an area I'm not pleased with, I can tell you that," Quinn said. "For us to play like we need to, that part of our game has got to come through. I think nine times (against Oakland), we got the quarterback off his spot, with three hits. We're a work in progress for sure there."

Getting more pressure will help alleviate some of the explosive plays the Falcons have surrendered. Against the Raiders, the Falcons gave up seven plays of 15-plus yards, including three of 25-plus yards. That doesn't include cornerback Robert Alford's 36-yard pass interference penalty.

Once Schofield is signed, the Falcons would have to make a corresponding roster move. It is not believed to involve placing the rookie Campbell on injured reserve. Defensive end Brooks Reed is the other player banged up with a shoulder injury, but Reed's status remains unclear as well.

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1 minute ago, D.B.N. said:

Ish has been playing well. I sure hope we don't rush Neal back in too soon. He needs to be 110% healthy. 

Ishmael has been playing well and Quinn knows it. I certainly wonder what Ish's "role" will be when Neal returns. From the article:

"It's the tackling down in the box, that's where he's featured best," Quinn said of Ishmael. "When Keanu's able to come back, Ish will certainly still have a role in doing what we do. He is very reliable in terms of his tackling, his approach."

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34 minutes ago, theProf said:

Ishmael has been playing well and Quinn knows it. I certainly wonder what Ish's "role" will be when Neal returns. From the article:

"It's the tackling down in the box, that's where he's featured best," Quinn said of Ishmael. "When Keanu's able to come back, Ish will certainly still have a role in doing what we do. He is very reliable in terms of his tackling, his approach."

Probably our three safety looks. Seattle was trying to use Browner for this but he sucked. 

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1 minute ago, GleasonForever! said:

They keep bringing in edge rushers but to me the real problem is interior push from DE's and DT's. It's non existent. Does help the outside guys at all. Bringing Scho is not going to change anything 

It's both.  They need to get Hage more pass rush opportunities and we need help off the edge.

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1 minute ago, Mid-Nite-Toker said:

Hageman inactive week 1 is puzzling.  I didn't buy the franchise reasoning.

I don't either, and I'm usually not one to try to read between the lines (because it's usually an excuse for making **** up).

But I have to believe they had him inactive because of the news, not his play.  He's been our best lineman in preseason, and he showed up yesterday.

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Just now, JDaveG said:

I don't either, and I'm usually not one to try to read between the lines (because it's usually an excuse for making **** up).

But I have to believe they had him inactive because of the news, not his play.  He's been our best lineman in preseason, and he showed up yesterday.

They knew since March and they seemed to prepare in the off season to not have Hageman.

I thought Hageman played well Sunday...hope the negativity is in the past.

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2 hours ago, D.B.N. said:

Ish has been playing well. I sure hope we don't rush Neal back in too soon. He needs to be 110% healthy. 

There is no such thing as 110% healthy, and if there is no risk to further injury, you have to trot him out there.  Ish has been good, but Neal is the future and if he lives up to the hype brings even more to this defense than Ish could on his best day.  The initial time table was 3-4 weeks, we are right in that window so I'm not sure why people think he is being rushed back?

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1 minute ago, athell said:

There is no such thing as 110% healthy, and if there is no risk to further injury, you have to trot him out there.  Ish has been good, but Neal is the future and if he lives up to the hype brings even more to this defense than Ish could on his best day.  The initial time table was 3-4 weeks, we are right in that window so I'm not sure why people think he is being rushed back?

He was flying all over the place in preseason. I would hate it if our last two 1 round picks didn't contribute Monday.

Hopefully Vic plays like he did against the Panthers.

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Timetable was 3-4 weeks. Surgery was August 29th. That puts us at 3 weeks and one day. He is right on track. They would not rush or force Neal, a first round pick, back on the field if he wasn't ready. It's not like Ish is playing bad so Quinn could ease Neal back onto the field and give him limited snaps vs the Saints. 

He'll be fine...

As for Campbell, I'm worried it's a high ankle sprain.

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11 minutes ago, athell said:

There is no such thing as 110% healthy, and if there is no risk to further injury, you have to trot him out there.  Ish has been good, but Neal is the future and if he lives up to the hype brings even more to this defense than Ish could on his best day.  The initial time table was 3-4 weeks, we are right in that window so I'm not sure why people think he is being rushed back?

You're right on the 110% healthy but it went over your head that I didn't mean literally 110% healthy, it was more of an exaggeration. I know Neal is the future (at least we can hope), but imo err on the side of caution with things like this, esp with how well Ishmael has been filling in. 

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4 minutes ago, D.B.N. said:

You're right on the 110% healthy but it went over your head that I didn't mean literally 110% healthy, it was more of an exaggeration. I know Neal is the future (at least we can hope), but imo err on the side of caution with things like this, esp with how well Ishmael has been filling in. 

I hear you, man.  The fact of the matter is though everytime these guys step on the field they risk injury.  I would hope the doctors that give him the all clear would do so only after confirming there was zero potential to make it worse.  If he is 100% healthy, and ready to go, he needs game reps.  He is already behind due to injury and has missed a lot of valuable time in the preseason so he needs to get up to speed and fast!  Plus I really want to see him take out Cooks coming across the middle lol

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3 hours ago, g-dawg said:

Yeah, why is it even mentioned in the same sentence "Campbell" and "injured reserve" ?????

I thought he had a sprained ankle?  a high sprain could be four weeks but there  are 14 games left.  WTH?

Since the Falcons have been very silent re Campbell's injury, then some might start assuming the worse. At this point, I think it is more than just the usual ankle sprain. I'm suspecting that it's a high-ankle sprain. But as you say, even a high-ankle sprain would surely not cause anyone to be put on IR with this many games remaining. However, if a player comes back too soon from a high-ankle sprain, there is a good chance of re-injury, which is what happened to Michael Turner toward the end of the 2009 season:

"More than 5 months later, Michael Turner ’90’ percent

Posted June 8, 2010 ·

Michael Turner isn’t quite all the way back to being the Burner.

Not just yet anyway.

The Atlanta Falcons running back admits that he is still hobbled to a degree by a high-ankle sprain that plagued him last season and eventually shut him down. That has to be at least somewhat concerning considering the Falcons running back has had more than five months since the season ended.

Turner classifies himself at “90” percent, according to Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the hope is he can find that missing 10 percent in the time between now and the beginning of training camp. High-ankle sprains are not injuries to sneeze at, but they’re also not the kind that should affect the following season.

“I’m well enough to play some games and not worry about it,” Turner said. “I’ve had high ankle sprains before but for me to go back out there and keep repeating it and hurting it over and over again, probably made the healing process a little bit longer,” Turner said."

http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/more-than-5-months-later-michael-turner-90-percent/

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1 hour ago, theProf said:

Since the Falcons have been very silent re Campbell's injury, then some might start assuming the worse. At this point, I think it is more than just the usual ankle sprain. I'm suspecting that it's a high-ankle sprain. But as you say, even a high-ankle sprain would surely not cause anyone to be put on IR with this many games remaining. However, if a player comes back too soon from a high-ankle sprain, there is a good chance of re-injury, which is what happened to Michael Turner toward the end of the 2009 season:

"More than 5 months later, Michael Turner ’90’ percent

Posted June 8, 2010 ·

Michael Turner isn’t quite all the way back to being the Burner.

Not just yet anyway.

The Atlanta Falcons running back admits that he is still hobbled to a degree by a high-ankle sprain that plagued him last season and eventually shut him down. That has to be at least somewhat concerning considering the Falcons running back has had more than five months since the season ended.

Turner classifies himself at “90” percent, according to Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the hope is he can find that missing 10 percent in the time between now and the beginning of training camp. High-ankle sprains are not injuries to sneeze at, but they’re also not the kind that should affect the following season.

“I’m well enough to play some games and not worry about it,” Turner said. “I’ve had high ankle sprains before but for me to go back out there and keep repeating it and hurting it over and over again, probably made the healing process a little bit longer,” Turner said."

http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/more-than-5-months-later-michael-turner-90-percent/

being a victim myself of two high ankle sprains, I told many at TATF when Roddy had his in 2nd preseason game and came back in home opener - there was no way his ankle could have been good to go.  High ankle sprains are a nasty, nasty injury and 4 weeks is on the fast side of healing and 6 weeks is really the proper amount of rest.  People that have never had a high ankle sprain just don't usually understand the severity of the injury.

Roddy played too soon and it added to his full recovery time as he was not right until about wee#12.

You need to let the ankle heal fully before coming back or it can easily get re-injured or delay full recovery.  Your wheels are everything in football.

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Like everyone else I'm anxious to see what Keanu Neal can do, but I'm a bit leary of him coming off injury and starting his NFL career against Drew Brees who will definitely target him if he's out there.  I'd almost rather see Ishmael get more of the snaps this week as Keanu gets spot duty while he gets re-acclimated to the speed of the game.

Edited by brewman
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1 hour ago, g-dawg said:

being a victim myself of two high ankle sprains, I told many at TATF when Roddy had his in 2nd preseason game and came back in home opener - there was no way his ankle could have been good to go.  High ankle sprains are a nasty, nasty injury and 4 weeks is on the fast side of healing and 6 weeks is really the proper amount of rest.  People that have never had a high ankle sprain just don't usually understand the severity of the injury.

Roddy played too soon and it added to his full recovery time as he was not right until about wee#12.

You need to let the ankle heal fully before coming back or it can easily get re-injured or delay full recovery.  Your wheels are everything in football.

You right bro.  If you've had one, you'll know.  Came down with all my weight on someones foot off a jump shot in high school and my foot folded over his.  I heard all the ligaments pop at once.  I writhed around dragging myself across that court for 5 minutes.  It's a horrific injury when severely done.  Cost me a couple football games in a cast as well.  I had turned it a few times since.  I still cringe when thinking about it gdawg.

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