According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, a league source said that Kevin Smith is "believed to have a torn ACL." Smith suffered what certainly looked to be a serious injury on the second play of the fourth quarter of Sunday's game when he made an awkward cut. Immediately Smith went down in pain, and he eventually had to be carted off the field.
"I was just catching a flat pass and trying to cut back and somehow my leg got stuck in the ground," said Smith, who was on crutches in the postgame locker room.
Asked to describe the injury, Smith said, "My knee just buckled and I had extreme pain instantly. I gotta get tests tomorrow, but it doesn't feel real good."
Right when Smith got hurt and showed how much pain he was in, I immediately assumed he tore his ACL because of how it happened. Like Smith said, his knee buckled, which usually means a torn ACL. The same thing happened to Brandon Pettigrew. It wasn't the result of a hit or anything like that; Smith and Pettigrew just planted wrong and had one of their knees give out. The resulting injury was a torn ACL for Pettigrew, and it seems like that is what happened to Smith as well.
What this means for the Lions in the short term is that Smith will be headed to injured reserve, ending his season. That is a big blow to the Lions' offense, because Smith had played quite well lately. As Jim Schwartz said, he had been one of the bright spots. Despite playing some tough run defenses in the last couple weeks, Smith had excelled, making plays happen without the help of very much good blocking. On Sunday against Baltimore, for example, Smith often had to deal with a defender as soon as he got the ball but often avoided being tackled and ran for anywhere from 5-20 yards. His cuts looked very fluid against Baltimore and really he was the only consistently good thing about the offense both yesterday and last week against Cincinnati.
The long-term effect this injury will have on Smith is unknown. He is going to have an MRI today to determine the exact injury and how severe it is, but chances are if he did in fact tear his ACL, it will take him 6-9 months to recover. That means that he should be back in time for training camp or the start of the 2010 season at the latest, though that doesn't necessarily mean he will be effective. For a running back, it could take extra time to regain enough strength in the injured knee to actually be effective and be able to run at full speed and make cuts. That is going to depend on the severity of the injury, though, so I suppose we should wait to hear the results of the MRI before doing anymore speculating.