The season for Jets rookie Devin Smith is over.
On Monday, New York head coach Todd Bowles confirmed the Jets worst fears when he announced that the tests on Smith's right knee revealed a torn ACL. Bowles said the team will "probably" place him on the season-ending injured reserve. The surgery to repair the injury, which was suffered against the Dolphins on Sunday, has not yet been scheduled.
"It's a tough break for him," Bowles said. "He was coming along, playing a lot faster and finding his place within the offense. But he's a young guy, so hopefully we can get [the surgery] done and he can come back stronger next year."
Smith, 23, was selected by the Jets in the second round of this year's draft and was expected to bring a dimension to the team's offense that it didn't yet have: Speed. During his four-year career at Ohio State, Smith averaged 20.7 yards per catch, including an eye-popping 28.2 as a senior. Early in the Jets offseason program, Smith flashed that deep-play ability, making multiple long grabs during the team's rookie minicamp, organized team activities and mandatory minicamp. That was until an injury in training camp stunted his growth.
On July 31, Jets quarterback Geno Smith went deep to Smith down the left sideline. The pass was a bit under thrown, resulting in the wide receiver having to jump back to the ball to make the grab. While Smith gained control of the ball in the air, his fall back to the ground left him injured. The wideout broke several ribs and punctured his lung. He missed the remainder of training camp and didn't make his season debut until the third week of the regular season.
Once Smith returned to the lineup, he struggled to make much of an impact as the absence from camp began to show. He wasn't on the same page as quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the two regularly fell victim to miscommunications. In the first seven games of his career, Smith managed just seven receptions.
In Smith's eighth game, though, it looked as if he was finally beginning to turn the corner. The wideout caught a 16-yard pass to convert a third down, then a 17-yard touchdown for his first NFL score. He earned the praise from coaches and teammates, and talk began of what a three-headed attack at receiver could like with Smith being added to a group that already included Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.
That was until Smith fell to the turf in Sunday's victory over the Titans. He was helped to his feet by trainers, placed on a cart and taken off the field with a towel over his head. He had an MRI on Monday, which revealed the tear.
"He was grasping everything mentally and he was playing faster," Bowles said in Smith's change as of late. "When you learn more and you get the mental part of it down, your game starts to play faster. He started playing faster from a route standpoint, a blocking standpoint, a recognition standpoint.
"It's unfortunate that this happened because he was coming around and really going to help us."
With Smith destined for the IR, a roster spot will open for the Jets. Bowles said whether or not the team uses that spot on a receiver will depend on the health of fellow receiver Jeremy Kerley, who left the victory over Tennessee with a calf contusion.
"We got [Kenbrell Thompkins], and depending on how Kerley comes along," Bowles said, "We'll see. We may or may not do something with that spot."