Devin Smith’s rocky rookie season is over.
The Jets receiver tore his right anterior cruciate ligament during Sunday’s blowout of the Titans and likely will be placed on injured reserve, Todd Bowles said Monday. A surgery date had not been scheduled.
The injury is a devastating blow in an already difficult season for the former Ohio State star. Smith missed mandatory minicamp practices in June because of the birth of his first child. He then broke several ribs and suffered a partially punctured lung on the second day of training camp. After missing the preseason, he made his debut in Week 3 against Philadelphia.
“It’s a tough break for him,” Bowles said of the second-round pick, who had nine catches for 115 yards and a touchdown in nine games. “He was coming along and he was starting to play faster and he was finding his place within the offense. But he is a young guy, so hopefully we can get it done and he can come back strong next year.”
The speedy Smith was hurt while covering a punt with 8:11 left in the third quarter of the 30-8 victory over the Titans. Bowles had no injury update after the game, other than that Smith would undergo an MRI Monday. But Smith’s body language as he was carted off the field said it all. Unable to put any weight on his right leg, he placed a towel over his face as he was being driven away.
Injuries aside, his season was trying on the field as well. Smith dropped a potential touchdown pass and was the intended receiver on one of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s fourth-quarter interceptions in a 24-17 loss at Houston on Nov. 22. Days later, however, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey expressed faith in Smith, saying: “I haven’t lost confidence in him. I’ve just got to make sure that he’s got confidence in himself.”
Although written off as a bust by some, Smith seemed to be turning the corner in recent weeks. He caught his first TD in a Week 12 win over the Dolphins that sustained the Jets’ hopes of making the playoffs.
“He was grasping everything mentally and was playing faster,’’ Bowles said. “When you learn more and you get the mental part of it down, your game starts to play faster. And he started playing faster from a route standpoint, from a blocking standpoint, from a recognition standpoint. And it’s unfortunate that this happened because he was coming around. He was really going to help us.”
Slot receiver Jeremy Kerley also suffered a calf contusion Sunday and did not finish the game. Said Bowles: “We’re just treating it and we’ll see how he is toward the end of the week.”
The Jets have Kenbrell Thompkins as another receiver option, but depth is now a concern behind playmakers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. Asked if the team expects to make a move, Bowles said: “We’ve got Thompkins, and depending on how Kerley comes around we’re looking around. We may or may not do something with that spot.”