Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees was hospitalized after suffering an injury during an on-field collision ahead of Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints, the team announced (h/t NFL Network's Ian Rapoport).
NFL analyst Cam Marino reported a Saints player ran into Pees during a kickoff drill.
A cart and stretcher came out to take Pees off the field. Medical staff stabilized his neck before placing him on the cart and transporting him to the hospital, per ESPN's Michael Rothstein.
The Falcons said in their statement that Pees was "alert and responsive." He was released from the University Medical Center New Orleans after receiving treatment, the team later announced. He will fly back to Atlanta with the team.
Frank Bush took over as the team's interim defensive play caller Sunday.
Pees, 73, has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL for more than a decade. He entered the NFL as a linebackers coach for the New England Patriots in 2004 and became a defensive coordinator for the franchise in 2006.
After his stop in New England, Pees joined the Baltimore Ravens as an inside linebackers coach in 2010 and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2012. He also served as defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans before coming out of retirement and joining the Falcons in 2021.
Pees is the oldest defensive coordinator in the NFL.
The Falcons could be in trouble without their defensive coordinator Sunday. They already entered the game with one of the NFL's worst defenses, allowing 380.6 yards per game (251.1 passing and 129.5 rushing).
Additionally, they are allowing 24.0 points per game.
The Falcons entered Sunday's game with a 5-8 record and still have a chance to win the NFC South.