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The team did not do the same level of earth-shattering work here


If Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen are healthy Youth Danny Trevathan Jerseys , nothing to worry about."We move past special teams, which has been transformed more or less wholesale, and into safety. but the questions that plague the position are at once both simpler and more troubling, because they rely on the availability of their two best players there.Onward. StartersYou’re looking at the same two starters the Falcons have employed since 2016, with a health-related twist. Keanu Neal plays football like a gladiator plays tag, which means injury was going to be a factor for him at some point. He suffered an injury in Week 1 and missed the entire season, and while his rehab is going well by all accounts, we don’t yet know if he’ll be 100% Week 1, or what it would mean if he wasn’t. When healthy he’s one of the league’s better young strong safeties with his tone-setting physicality and ability, and if he’s back to form, the Falcons are all set at the position.A similar story unfolded for Ricardo Allen, who had been durable and reliable before a catastrophic Achilles injury cost him most of the year. That double whammy decimated the Falcons’ backend, with Allen being a major loss because of his comfort helping to organize the defense, his ability to make plays on the ball and open field tackles when things went awry, and that aforementioned reliability. If he’s healthy he’s a chronically underrated defender, and if he’s all set, the Falcons are also all set at his position.The problem is that we don’t know if either of these players will be fully healthy to start the season, with Allen’s Achilles ailment looming particularly large in my anxieties. The Falcons have quietly piled up safety depth all offseason long in the form of veterans J.J. Wilcox, Chris Cooper, and Afolabi Laguda, and they already had Sharrod Neasman and maybe-cornerback Damontae Kazee under contract. That suggests that they’re hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, which is smart.If these two are healthy, as I suggested above, this is one of the league’s better safety duos and a major part of what has the potential to be a terrific 2019 Falcons secondary. The uncertainty is what’s killing me.Reserves As mentioned above Womens David Montgomery Jersey , the Falcons have stripped their safety depth down to studs and rebuilt it. If Kazee does stick at cornerback as the team has suggested, he’ll likely only occasionally mix in at safety, if at all. If not, though, it’s possible he’s the starter at free safety on Week 1, depending on Allen’s progress. Kazee wasn’t perfect there a year ago but was an aggressive ballhawk of a safety who was one of the team’s few defensive bright spots, so if the team ends up keeping him there, it’s an understandable decision and one that makes the safety group stronger.From there, the options are less proven. Neasman turned in solid play down the stretch and is an affordable player with a well-rounded game that would seem to make him well-suited to be (at worst) the team’s fifth safety, but the Falcons have added three safeties since the offseason began, signalling they’re not going to lock him into a spot. J.J. Wilcox is a thumper with the requisite ability against the run and a couple of seasons’ worth of starting experience, which makes him a solid addition to the group and a strong favorite to be Keanu Neal’s direct backup. His coverage skills won’t make you forget about Jordan Richards, however, and if he gets substantial run that could prove to be a problem as the season grinds on. As a proven veteran backup with some legitimately good play under his belt in the past, though, Wilcox makes sense.The other two additions are wildcards in comparison. Chris Cooper has bounced around in his short NFL career to this point and hasn’t gotten any game action yet, making him pure projection for those of us trying to figure out this depth chart. The team has talked about him as if he could step in and approximate the role Damontae Kazee was meant to play last year, backing up Allen and playing nickel cornerback if the situation got dire, and his athleticism suggests the Falcons have something to work with. Whether he’ll fare well there or even has a particularly great shot of making the roster, especially if Kazee doesn’t make the full-time switch to corner, we just can’t say yet.Afolabi Laguda feels like a practice squad candidate for this time given their other additions, but he has the size, raw speed, and physicality to be interesting over the long haul. The Falcons showed some interest in him during the 2017 pre-draft process, so I wouldn’t bet against him Cheap David Montgomery Jersey , but like Cooper we don’t have enough to go on to suggest he’s destined for much of anything just yet.To round out the group, the Falcons have Ryan Neal, who offers physicality and potentially a little positional versatility in his own right, and former Kazee college teammate Parker Baldwin, who is a legitimately interesting player in his own right. It’s fair to say that Laguda, Neal, and Baldwin are probably fighting over (at most) a couple of practice squad spots when all is said and done, with Wilcox, Neasman and Cooper in the mix for a couple of backup spots. Outlook Everything depends on the health of Allen and Neal, if we’re being honest. The Falcons have set themselves up to have a real battle for backup jobs that hopefully the best 2-3 men will win, which will hopefully mean they aren’t scrambling madly to assemble depth in case of injury like they were in 2018, when Neasman had to return and offer some stability to the group. But if Allen and Neal aren’t healthy, and you’re turning to Kazee/Cooper and Wilcox/Neasman for multiple weeks, it’s going to put a dent in the defense’s outlook. That’s less a knock on those guys than an acknowledgement of just how important Allen and Neal are to making this defense work as best it can.All we can do now is take a deep breath, hope for health, and hope that the fires of competition lead to the best possible depth chart at safety. The Falcons have enough big picture questions on defense to know that they can ill-afford to be without either of their starting safeties for very long. LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears receiver Allen Robinson had a tough time coming to grips with the fact that there was no game to prepare for this week when he woke up Monday morning.“Pretty crazy,” he said.Safety Adrian Amos figured the Bears would be planning for their next opponent, not cleaning out their lockers.“Things happen, you know, time to take it in, put it behind you and start working for next year,” he said.Chicago’s season ended in the cruelest possible way, with embattled kicker Cody Parkey’s potential winning field goal hitting the left upright and crossbar in the closing seconds of a 16-15 wild-card loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.Instead of preparing for a trip to Los Angeles to face the Rams, the Bears turned their attention toward building on what they accomplished this season. And they accomplished quite a bit.The Monsters of the Midway went 12-4 to win the NFC North in their first season under coach Matt Nagy after four straight last-place finishes and made the playoffs for the first time in eight years. They finished with their best record since the 2006 team went 13-3 and reached the Super Bowl.They saw progress from quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in his second NFL season. They dominated on defense David Montgomery Chicago Bears Jerseys , with Khalil Mack leading the way after a blockbuster trade from Oakland just before the season.They also made Sundays fun again in Chicago, with their coach setting the tone, and re-energized a franchise frustrated by years of losing.“I think having such great chemistry makes today easier,” guard Kyle Long said. “Today is tough regardless, but having guys you can lean on — I’ll be going to dinner with some of these guys this week. We have real friends in this locker room, it’s not just teammates. That’s important.”The Bears have some issues to address, starting with Parkey’s future.Parkey made the Pro Bowl as a rookie with Philadelphia in 2014. He was solid for Miami in 2017. But after signing a four-year contract last March, his first season in Chicago didn’t go the way he envisioned.Parkey was 23 of 30 on field goals in the regular season and 3 of 4 in the wild-card game. He made 42 of 45 extra points. But he hit uprights on six of his misses.Parkey nailed them four times while missing two field goals and two extra points in a victory over Detroit at Soldier Field. He also hit one while missing a PAT in the regular-season finale at Minnesota.On Sunday, Parkey’s 43-yard attempt in the closing seconds hit halfway up the upright and ricocheted off the crossbar before harmlessly falling to the ground. The NFL changed the miss Monday to a block for Philadelphia’s Treyvon Hester, who touched the ball. That’s little consolation for the Bears.“To make a joke of it, hitting the upright, it takes some accuracy,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “He’s been hitting the upright. We know he wants to make it.”Amukamara insisted there was plenty of blame to go around for the loss, such as having 10 players on the field when Dallas Goedert caught a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter.All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson (right ankle) was active but did not play. Tight end Trey Burton was inactive against his former team after being added late to the team’s injury report because of a groin problem.He said he felt some tightness Friday. He didn’t think much of it until Saturday, when his groin was “completely locked.”“I let my team down. I hate it,” he said.Burton has acknowledged his battles with anxiety. But he insisted he was in a “really good spot mentally going into this game.”The Bears could also be in the market for a defensive coordinator if Vic Fangio gets a head coaching job.In four seasons, he has helped transform a defense that ranked among the worst in franchise history. Chicago led the NFL in rushing defense, takeaways (36) and interceptions (27) while tying for third in sacks (50). And the 60-year-old Fangio is in the running for the opening in Denver.Amos could also be on the move, with an expiring contract. So does cornerback Bryce Callahan, who broke his left foot against the Rams on Dec. 9 and missed the rest of the season.Long was looking forward to an offseason with “no knives.” The three-time Pro Bowl lineman missed eight games this season because of a foot injury before returning at Minnesota. He has also had shoulder, elbow, neck and ankle surgeries in recent years.“I get to maybe take a vacation, which would be sweet,” Long said. “That would be really cool.”