When Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis went down with a knee injury yesterday, I had a gut feeling it was going to be bad. Something about the body language on the sideline and the somber tone of some of the players after the game just all pointed to a torn ACL. Mathis didn't have swelling in his knee overnight, which is typically a good sign, but an MRI today revealed that Mathis had a torn ACL. Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union tweeted a little bit ago that Mathis' ACL is a tear, and he will be going on injured reserve.
William Middleton is the likely replacement for Mathis, who filled in for an injured Derek Cox earlier in the year, but losing Mathis changes how a fully healthy Jaguars defense operates. As we saw when Cox returned from his injury, it allows the Jaguars to play more man concepts on the outside with their corners, freeing up safeties to blitz, play underneath coverage, etc. Middleton should fit in just fine in Mathis' place, but it will be a big loss on more than just the stat sheet. Mathis was one of the vocal leaders on the defense.
Mathis' contract expires after the season and his future with the team was a bit of a question mark prior to the injury. The knee injury will likely squash most interest teams had in Mathis after the season.