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Keanu Neal (knee) returns to Falcons practice

Right on schedule, Keanu Neal returned to the practice field Thursday.

The Falcons rookie safety has been sidelined for the past three to four weeks since undergoing minor surgery to correct a knee injury suffered in the third week of the preseason. His timetable to return gave him up to four weeks to recover, which takes us right up until the present.

"He did a good job in the walk-through," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said after practice, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He's been that way in terms of his calls and assignments. We're proud of the way that he aggressively attacked his rehab after the injury."

Neal is pining to play Monday night against the Saints, but two factors might be in his way.

First, Neal's conditioning is not where it needs to be, according to Quinn.

"He's definitely chomping at the bit," Quinn said. "We are going to take it through the next three days and see how he progresses, see how he performs, where his conditioning is and then we'll make the determination at the end of the week."

Also delaying his return could be the performance of his replacement, Kemal Ishmael, a four-year veteran who tallied 15 tackles against the Raiders in Week 2.

For the safety, when Neal gets back doesn't matter as long as he does.

"We are just going to slowly get into it," Neal added. "They are not going to throw me into the fire. We are going to have a few plays here and there. I'm just slowly getting back into the process."

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