Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox
Author: Jon Kuzma
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The Atlanta Falcons are just a couple years removed from a Super Bowl appearance and two rookies helped get them there in 2016. Those players were Deion Jones and Keanu Neal and now both guys are heading into their third season of professional action. Jones and Neal have developed quite a bit from their early Falcons days up until this point. As a rookie most players are timid and hesitant. It will be the complete opposite this upcoming season though both Jones and Neal are going to be fluid and confidant. Deion Jones has recorded 246 tackles, 6 interceptions, and 2 TDs since being drafted in the 2nd round out of LSU. Not many players have the ability to play sideline to sideline like Jones is able to do. A lot of that comes from the fact that Deion Jones runs a 4.38 40 yard dash. That’s a different type of speed for an NFL middle linebacker but with the game becoming more pass oriented it makes sense that Jones would thrive in coverage. Not only do quarterbacks have to be worried when they throw over the middle. Receivers have to be cautious about running to that area of the field too because of the massive hits Jones can deliver. Then if an offensive player does make it past Jones they run into Keanu Neal who is a force in the Falcons secondary. Neal is known for being a big hitter and if you Youtube his highlight tapes that will become obvious. Neal has 222 tackles over his first two years which shows this guy is a pure tackler in the open field. If there’s one thing Neal does need to work on it’s his ability to diagnose passing plays. The Falcons free safey (Neal) only has 1 interceptions during his career so Atlanta needs him to generate more takeaways. Regardless though these defenders have been huge in solidifying Dan Quinn’s defense. We know Matt Ryan and the rest of the offensive players are going to put points on the board. It’s nice to see ATL get serious about clamping down defensively and big time players like Jones and Neal make that possible.
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