INDIANAPOLIS -- Atlanta Falcons starting free safety Keanu Neal was carted off the field near the end of the first half and ruled out for the remainder of the 27-24 loss to the Colts with an Achilles injury.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn did not immediately comment on whether Neal tore his Achilles. Neal was spotted exiting the stadium on crutches, with his left foot in a boot.
Neal suffered the injury with 20 seconds left before halftime while in coverage in the end zone. He fell to the ground in pain and appeared to be in tears as the medical team brought out the cart for him. His teammates consoled him before he exited the field.
The injury is significant not only because Neal is viewed as an enforcer playing the in-the-box safety, but also because Neal suffered a season-ending ACL tear last season.
"I just know how hard he's worked to get back from last year's [ACL]. It just sucks,'' cornerback Desmond Trufant said. "First off, he's just a good person. It's hard when you see something like that. All we can do is pray for him and leave it out there on the field for him.''
Free safety Ricardo Allen, who suffered a season-ending Achilles tear last year, said Neal's injury "didn't look good."
"He understands the grind, man. He was with me last year; I was with him last year. We understand what it takes to get back. We understand what this job [takes a toll] on the body. He's just got to keep being a believer, keep being strong and don't let it bring him down, man. It's a long life. Got to keep that mind right," he said.
Kemal Ishmael is the backup strong safety in Quinn's defense.
The Falcons also lost running back Ito Smith for the rest of Sunday's game with a concussion.