Derek Rivers’ rookie season has ended before it could even start. The team fears that the defensive end has suffered a season-ending knee injury, according to Field Yates and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Specifically, Rivers has suffered a torn ACL and sprained LCL, per the initial MRI, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Additional testing will likely confirm that surgery is needed.
Rivers was injured during a kickoff coverage drill on Wednesday. It’s a bad break for both the player and the team as Rivers was expected to pitch in at both defensive end and outside linebacker in the wake of Rob Ninkovich‘s retirement.
Rivers was a third-round pick in this year’s draft, but he wound up being the team’s highest draft choice after the Pats sent their first-round pick to the Saints for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and dealt their second-round choice to the Panthers for defensive end Kony Ealy.
The injury could prompt the Patriots to look at free agent options. There aren’t a ton of high-impact edge rushers left, but Dwight Freeney is one of the more notable names left on the board. As a pass rush specialist for the Falcons last year, Freeney finished out with 3.0 sacks and ten tackles in the regular season.
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