“I’m heartbroken for him. I love the guy,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Monday.
Neal’s teammates, including free safety Ricardo Allen, also had emotional responses to Neal’s injury. Allen suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury last year and went through rehab with Neal.
He said he can’t imagine having to deal with another serious injury.
“You’re just getting back,” Allen said. “He’s finally hitting his stride and finally getting a good feel. That just sucks for him. I feel so bad for him.”
Allen said he’ll provide advice after recovering from his injury.
“I’m here for him, whatever he needs,” Allen said. “It’s a long journey for him. He understands the journey. … It’s a daily thing and it’s never over.”
Kemal Ishmael likely will replace Neal in the lineup for Sunday’s game against Tennessee, though Quinn said a revised defensive plan will involve more than one replacement.
“He’ll bounce back but I know how hard he worked to get here so I’m definitely bummed for him,” Quinn said.
Neal, a 2016 first-round draft pick out of the University of Florida, was a Pro Bowl selection in 2017, when he had 113 tackles with three forced fumbles and one interception.
Quinn said the Falcons will have free-agent safeties at the facility for workouts this week but may call up a player from the practice squad.
Running backs Ito Smith and Kenjon Barner are in concussion protocol, creating an opening for Brian Hill to move up as Devonta Freeman’s backup.
Quinn said he hopes defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (toe) will be available for practice late in the week.
• Cut defensive end Jachai Polite from the practice squad.
Los Angeles Rams
•Signed defensive end Jachai Polite to the practice squad Wednesday. The Jets drafted him in the third round, cut him Aug. 31, and he signed with the Seahawks’ practice squad Sept. 1. Polite’s stay in Seattle lasted only 22 days.
“He’s in here, and he’s going to be held to the same standards and expectations as everybody else in this building. There were some good things that he did at Florida that are encouraging,” Rams coach Sean McVay told reporters Wednesday. “We’re are excited to be able to have him. With that being said, everybody has got a standard to uphold, and he will be in the same line in terms of those things.”
• Placed defensive tackle Caleb Brantley on the reserve/injured list.
Kansas City Chiefs
•Signed defensive end Joey Ivie to the practice squad after releasing him earlier.