The Atlanta Falcons have lost starting free safety Ricardo Allen to a season-ending Achilles tendon tear.
It marks at least the third significant defensive player to suffer a major injury. The Falcons lost Pro Bowl strong safety Keanu Neal to a season-ending ACL tear, and Pro Bowl middle linebacker Deion Jones was placed on injured reserve following foot surgery. Jones is eligible to return for the Nov. 18 game against Dallas.
Defensive ends Takk McKinley and Derrick Shelby also missed the last game due to groin injuries, the severity of which are unknown at this time.
Allen played 66 snaps before being carted off the field during Sunday's 43-37 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints. The team initially called it a calf injury as Allen went down without any apparent contact.
"It hurts, especially when you know what 'Rico' means to this defense, how much he means to this whole team, how much he helps everyone, the person he is,'' linebacker Duke Riley said of Allen. "He gets everything going. He's a big, big part.''
The loss of Allen, a designate "chief'' as a team leader and one of the smartest players on defense, leaves the Falcons decimated at the safety position. He had shifted over to Neal's strong safety role and Damontae Kazee spent more time in Allen's free safety spot. The Falcons traded with New England prior to the start of the season for Jordan Richards, who initially was viewed as the backup to Neal. And the Falcons signed veteran Keith Tandy, who was inactive for the Saints game.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn didn't rule out having a discussion about free-agent Eric Reid, who has been scrutinized for kneeling in protest of social injustice as part of Colin Kaepernick's cause.
Both Reid and Kaepernick have filed collusion grievances against the NFL.
Earl Thomas, one of Quinn's former stars when he was the defensive coordinator in Seattle, is disgruntled with the Seahawks now, so one has to wonder if the Falcons might inquire about what it would take to get Thomas in a trade, although that might be a longshot.
Allen signed a three-year, $19.5 million extension before the start of the season.
The Falcons also are banged up on offense with running back Devonta Freeman still sidelined by a knee contusion. Starting left guard Andy Levitre was placed on injured reserve with a triceps injury, replaced in the lineup by Wes Schweitzer.