More bad news for the Panthers. After key offensive lineman Daryl Williams dislocated his knee and tore his MCL yesterday, they were struck with another serious injury to a player expected to have a big role. Cornerback Ross Cockrell broke his leg, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). There’s no timetable for Cockrell’s recovery just yet, but the injury will certainly cost him regular season games.
Cockrell, 27 in August, was sent to the Giants in a September 2017 trade that netted the Steelers a conditional seventh-round draft pick. A former fourth-round pick, Cockrell went on to start nine games for Big Blue, collecting three interceptions and grading as the NFL’s No. 39 cornerback among 120 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. This offseason, the Panthers signed him to a two-year, $6.8MM contract.
In 2017, Cockrell finished first in Football Outsiders’ success rate, which measures cornerbacks on their ability to consistently stop opposing wideouts short of the sticks. In fact, Cockrell was one of only eight defenders who stopped a receiver short of a successful gain on over half their tackles a season ago, as FO’s Aaron Schatz tweeted earlier this year. The league has consistently undervalued him and his skillset, but the Panthers recognized his ability and were looking forward to what he could contribute this year.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.