NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Devin Smith’s rough rookie season with the New York Jets has come to a painful end.
The wide receiver has a torn ligament in his right knee and is expected to be placed on season-ending injured reserve.
“I mean, it’s a tough break for him,” coach Todd Bowles said during a conference call Monday. “He was coming along, he was starting to play faster and he was starting to find his place within the offense.”
Surgery had not yet been scheduled for the team’s second-round draft pick out of Ohio State, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee.
“He’s a young guy, so hopefully we can get it done and he can come back stronger next year,” Bowles said.
Smith was hurt while covering the Jets’ first punt of the game in the third quarter of New York’s dominating 30-8 victory over Tennessee on Sunday. After Dexter McCluster’s 2-yard return, Smith remained down on the turf near the Jets sideline while grabbing at his right leg. After being helped up, Smith didn’t put any weight on his right leg and then covered his head with a towel as he was carted to the locker room.
He had just nine catches for 115 yards and a touchdown while struggling to find a consistent role. The Jets drafted him to add a speedy element to the offense, but Smith missed most of training camp with broken ribs and a punctured lung which he suffered while making an athletic catch during practice.
Smith sat out the first two games of the regular season while healing from the ribs injury, and missed New York’s game at Oakland last month with a sprained ankle.
“He was grasping everything mentally,” Bowles said.
Bowles added that Smith had improved his route running, blocking and overall recognition, leading to him playing faster.
“It’s unfortunate that this happened because he was coming around,” Bowles said. “He was really going to help us.”
Veteran wide receiver Jeremy Kerley has a bruised calf that twice caused him to leave the game against the Titans. Kerley has seen a reduced role on offense with 16 catches for 152 yards and two touchdowns, but has served as the Jets’ primary punt returner.
“We’re just treating it and we’ll see how he is toward the end of the week,” Bowles said.
Bowles indicated Kenbrell Thompkins, who has been inactive three of the last four games, could see more action with Smith out. New York also has Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa at wide receiver.
Depending on Kerley’s progress, Bowles said the Jets “are looking around” and might add to the position.
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