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After Returning From Injury, Brandon Meriweather Tore ACL In Right Knee

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

(Originally posted 11/19/12, 3:53 p.m.; Updated 11/19/12, 8:22 p.m.)

ASHBURN – When Mike Shanahan pulled Brandon Meriweather aside after the Washington Redskins’ victory over Philadelphia on Sunday to ask him about his right knee, Meriweather showed no concern over any injury he may have sustained.

Meriweather

His actions immediately after collapsing on the field early in the third quarter of the eventual 31-6 victory demonstrated as much. After an initial diagnosis with athletic trainers, Meriweather hopped on a stationary bike, pedaled for short while to loosen up the knee and then joined the rest of his defensive teammates on the sideline, itching to return to the game.

That’s why the results of an MRI taken Monday morning stunned the strong safety, his head coach and the Redskins. Meriweather, returning after a left knee injury kept him out of the first nine games of the season, will miss the final six after tearing the ACL in his right knee.

“Obviously shocked, disappointed,” Shanahan said Monday. “It’s unfortunate, because it has been healthy. It’s been just a couple freak situations and hopefully, he can take care of that and be back next year and ready to go.”

Meriweather battled a series of left knee injuries since midway through the preseason, twice aggravating the knee on the eve of his potential return. That finally happened Sunday, when he provided a lift to the Redskins’ defense: He had seven tackles, deflected two passes and intercepted a third, returning it 25 yards midway through the first quarter.

That’s what Washington expected from Meriweather, 28, who signed a two-year, $6 million contract to join the Redskins in March after a mediocre year in Chicago. A two-time Pro Bowl player during his first four seasons in New England, Meriweather was regarded as a hard-hitter and aggressive playmaker who could help the Redskins overhaul their secondary on the cheap because of a salary cap penalty levied by the league shortly before free agency began.

“I want to start off by saying I’m sorry to all the Redskins fans,” Meriweather, who could not be reached for comment, wrote on his Twitter page Monday afternoon. “Y’all are the best. But this was a bad season for me. I promise that I’ll be back next year better than ever. Hard work pays off. God had something different for me this year. So see y’all next year.”

Having been nurtured in the Patriots’ system, Meriweather grew from a player unwilling to discuss anything that may offer any type of competitive advantage to one who grew comfortable making jokes about the health of his left knee.

Last week, when it appeared increasingly likely that he would make his debut after nine games on the sidelines, he teased that he would visit the press box 10 minutes before kickoff to announce, in person, whether he would play. He jokingly apologized afterward, saying that other things – like the game – got in the way.

But he was direct when it came to his concern over the knee. He insisted the decision to hold him out of the rest of the game was merely precautionary, given his recent injury history and the Redskins’ lead. He vowed to be ready for Dallas on Thursday – less a statement of bravado than an honest belief that there was little wrong.

“I think he brought a spark to the whole team,” defensive end Stephen Bowen said Monday. “An amazing player, and it showed in his play. It spoke for itself. I don’t really have to talk about it – everybody saw how much of an impact he makes.”

Without Meriweather, the Redskins will go back to using a combination of Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes and Jordan Pugh at strong safety. Doughty started the last seven games and Pugh entered on passing downs, but Gomes, in his second season, played after Meriweather left the game Sunday.

The Redskins held Philadelphia to 257 yards, the fewest they’ve allowed this season, and gave up only 204 passing yards to rookie quarterback Nick Foles.

Now, facing a recovery of at least six months after he undergoes surgery sometime in the next two weeks, Meriweather is uncertain to be available for the start of mini-camp in June. He was not officially placed on injured reserve Monday, though that will happen today.

“He loves football. He’s got energy out there. That’s the reason we brought him in,” Shanahan said. “Every once in a while, these things do happen.”

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