With injuries piling up on the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons are hopeful they will get back three key starters on defense for a Week 5 matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
Speaking with the media on Tuesday, coach Dan Quinn said defensive end Takk McKinley and safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal were "trending in the right spot." Allen and McKinley have missed the previous two games with an elbow and a groin injury, respectively. Neal injured his hamstring late in the Bears game, and the injury held him out for the Week 4 game against the Green Bay Packers.
"I would say Takk had some spots where he was getting closer," Quinn said. "I would say, of the three, he's the closest as we're moving and then we'll work into Rico and Keke into tomorrow into practice and see how they respond, but I would say Takk and then the safeties behind him."
The Falcons need to start getting healthy, particularly on the defense. Against the Packers, the Falcons lost safety Damontae Kazee for the season with a torn Achilles, and rookie safety Jaylinn Hawkins was also forced out of the action with a possible head injury. Atlanta entered the matchup already thin in the secondary after placing cornerback Darqueze Dennard on injured reserve and rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
A short week lies ahead for the Falcons, who are still seeking their first win of the 2020 season. Under Quinn, the Falcons have been successful against division opponents, but at 2-2, the Panthers have proven to be a tougher team than most expected coming into the year.