The NFL lost significant talent with a few devastating knee injuries in Week 6.
Not all of them happened with contact, and that was the case for New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz. Jumping for a pass in the end zone, Cruz landed without the ball, instead clutching at his right knee. He was quickly diagnosed with a torn patellar tendon. He was in obvious pain, crying with his hands over his face while being carted to the locker room on Sunday.
The receiver that became famous for his salsa dance following touchdowns will be out for the season, and torn patella tendons often have a lasting impact on the explosiveness of receivers. While the impact beyond the 2014 season may not be as bad for New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo, he, too, is out of the season with a knee injury.
“Obviously, it was a little bittersweet with Jerod going down in the first half, so I hope he’s OK,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the Patriots’ win Sunday.
Obviously, he isn’t. Mayo’s injury came 364 days after his season-ending pectoral injury last year. But the mess of knees didn’t end with Cruz and Mayo, as New England suffered double knee trouble. RB Stevan Ridley is also out for the season with a torn ACL.
In Miami, RB Knowshon Moreno suffered an ACL injury that prompted the Dolphins to place him on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday.
But wasn’t just the knees this weekend.
Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack might have been least known of the big injuries, simply because of the position he plays, but his loss is both surprising and impactful.
The two-time Pro Bowl center hadn’t missed a start for the Browns since entering the league as their first-round pick in 2009. That’s 5,189 consecutive snaps at a position that sees plenty of falling massive players around him, but the Pro Bowl center broke his leg while blocking on a running play. He had just signed a five-year, $42 million contract in March, but the Browns will have to be without him likely for the rest of the season, although Cleveland coach Mike Pettine left open the possibility for Mack’s return in eight to 10 weeks if no further damage was found. “It’s tough,” Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer said. “Alex, other than Joe Thomas, has been the anchor of that line long before I got here. I know how much it means to him and when you see the whole team come over and check on him, it shows how much he means to this offense.”
But the knees dominated the NFL injury report, as they tend to do in a high-speed sport with contact.
Some other big-name players to suffer knee injuries of varying degrees already this year, with 2½ months remaining: Arizona Cardinals DE Calais Campbell, Baltimore Ravens DT Timmy Jernigan and T Eugene Monroe, Cincinnati Bengals LB Sean Porter (injured reserve), Dallas Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne (IR) and LB Sean Lee (IR), Detroit Lions LBs Stephen Tulloch (IR) and Kyle Van Noy (IR), Houston Texans LB Jadeveon Clowney and DT Louis Nix (IR), New Orleans Saints S Jairus Byrd (IR), New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings, Pittsburgh Steelers LB Ryan Shazier, San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Matthews and CB Shareece Wright, St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford (IR) and Tennessee Titans T Michael Roos.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.