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Falcons dealing with another injury to their defense

By MATT WINKELJOHN

Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) The Atlanta Falcons lost yet another starter to a season-ending injury Monday.

Yet a team with Super Bowl aspirations is hoping that safety Ricardo Allen's torn Achilles tendon won't derail their season.

"We will not play the role of the victim with injuries, and we've got a locker room full of tough competitive guys, and I expect us to play well," coach Dan Quinn said Monday, a day after Allen injured his leg against the Saints.

That's a hard sell before Sunday's game against the Bengals, given how important Allen is to the Falcons' injury-ravaged defense. Allen is the third Falcons defensive starter to go on injured reserve so far this season.

The Falcons said they're not feeling sorry for themselves even though starting strong safety Keanu Neal was lost for the season with a knee injury in the first game at Philadelphia. Middle linebacker Deion Jones suffered a foot injury that will keep him out at least eight games. Atlanta also has lost starting left guard Andy Levitre to a season-ending arm injury.

"This is the life we live," defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said. "You can't sit there and worry over it."

Allen, a fourth-year veteran from Purdue, is respected for his ability to coordinate the defense on the field.

He was carted off the field late in Sunday's 43-37 overtime loss to the Saints, and the Falcons (1-2) have little depth at the position heading into Sunday's game against the Bengals (2-1).

Second-year pro Damontae Kazee, a cornerback in college at San Diego State, moved into the lineup after Neal was lost.

That bumped the 5-foot-9, 186-pound Allen - a cornerback in college - to strong safety, where he was expected to play a lot of run defense.

Jordan Richards, a former second-round pick by the Patriots acquired by a trade days before the season, jumped into the strong safety position upon Allen's injury.

"It's big. Just got to pray for him," Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant said. "Big part of the D. Everybody knows what he brings, but other people got to step up."

The Falcons have just one other safety on the roster, having signed Keith Tandy a couple of weeks ago. He was inactive for Sunday's game against the Saints.

Quinn said that reserve linebacker Kemal Ishmael, a former safety whose primary role has been to play special teams, will be a consideration, and third-year nickel back Brian Poole, will practice at the safety spot.

Allen is respected for his overall grasp of the defensive concepts of Quinn and coordinator Marquand Manuel and for his ability to communicate to teammates.

"That was one of Rico's strengths, just how smart he is, his understanding of what's going on before plays happen on their side and our side," Trufant said.

Quinn said the Falcons will look to add another safety to the roster, but rebuffed the suggestion that the team might seek to acquire Seahawks safety Earl Thomas or sign free agent Eric Reid, another former Pro Bowler.

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Updated September 24, 2018

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