Posted August 18, 2013

Miami’s Dustin Keller suffers season-ending knee injuries against Texans

AFC East, AFC South, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets
Dustin Keller grabs his knee after what looks to be a nasty injury against the Houston Texans. (Eric Gay/AP)

Dustin Keller grabs his knee after a nasty injury against the Houston Texans. (Eric Gay/AP)

Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller will miss the entire 2013 season with the knee injury he suffered in Miami’s 24-17 loss to the Houston Texans on Saturday. The time Keller will lose was first reported by Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, and later confirmed by several sources. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Keller tore the anterior cruciate, medial collateral, and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee, and he also dislocated the knee on one play.

With 7:58 left in the second quarter, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw a short pass to Keller, and Texans rookie defensive back D.J. Swearinger made the tackle. On the play, Keller’s right knee bent sideways at a fairly gruesome angle, and he had to be carted off the field. Keller was clearly shaken after the injury, grasping his knee and visibly cursing as he was helped on to the cart.

It’s especially bad timing for Keller, as he’s currently on a one-year, $4.25 million contract with the Dolphins with $2.35 million of that guaranteed. The former Purdue standout, selected with the 30th overall pick by the New York Jets in the 2008 NFL draft, amassed 241 catches for 2,876 yards and 17 touchdowns for his first team over five seasons. But he missed eight games in 2012, and he took a one-year risk in free agency, turning down a multi-year contract offer from the Dolphins.

“My worth wasn’t where I think it was at,” he told the Miami Herald in May. “So I took a gamble on myself and said I’m better than everyone thinks I am. This is where I want to be long-term. But I want to prove to them I’m better than last year.”

So far, he had been doing so in his new environment.

“He stretches the field down the middle, and that’s exciting for me,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said of Keller last Monday. “I have a big target who can use his body, go up and separate from linebackers and safeties and catches the ball well. That’s what you want from a guy moving downfield as a tight end.”

For Keller, the admiration has been mutual, which makes sense for a guy fresh out of the Jets’ quarterback quagmire.

“His presence in the huddle, he just takes a professional approach to everything he does,” Keller said of Tannehill in late July. “He’s not the most talkative guy, but he talks when need be. He has a great command of the huddle, and a great command of this offense.”

As for Swearinger, he told ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli that while he hopes Keller recovers quickly (he said that twice after the game), he had three helmet to helmet penalties when he played for South Carolina, and he’s been conditioned to hit low as a result. Some believe that he took his helmet to Keller’s knee in a way that was outside the rules, but there was no penalty on the play.

“With the rules in this era, you’ve got to hit low,” Swearinger said. “If I would have hit him high, I would have gotten a fine. So I think I made the smartest play. I’m sorry it happened … Right now it’s just instinct. You see somebody come across the middle, you gotta go low. You’re going to cost your team 15 yards. You’ve got to play within the rules.”

Miami offensive tackle Tyson Clabo was not happy with Swearinger’s methodology.

“If I did, he wasn’t listening,” Clabo said, when asked if he said anything to Swearinger. “He was doing his little dance or whatever he was doing. Like I said, it’s not illegal. You can’t say that it’s dirty or whatever, but you just hate to see that situation.”

Tight end Michael Egnew, one of the players expected to get more reps now, spoke to the dilemma players go through when a friend in the same position group is lost for a long period of time.

“He’s one of my good friends on the team. It messes me up, but like I said fortunately we have great quarterbacks and great back-up players. Everyone’s going to step up and fill the void.”

16 comments
FrankJamesRocha
FrankJamesRocha

you dont get to this level without knowing how to tackle in every way possible. going low is going for the feet and "tripping" your opponent for all intents and purposes. going for the knees at the NFL level is no accident, its not an "oops" or an "I didn't know". Its intentional, it always will be at this level. a high hit is not illegal its just risky because you can end up hitting someone helmet to helmet and cause a debilitating injury (to say nothing of a fine), any player more concerned about money than a persons health a well being shouldn't be playing. a low hit is just as risky and can cause i injuries just as bad. thats like a UFC fighter breaking someones neck with his hands and saying "oops, it was an accident". sorry you don't get to use that excuse at this level.

airmjbsanders
airmjbsanders

This hit is a direct result of the rule changes the last few yrs designed to limit concussions so the NFL can save face w/ all the lawsuits by former players.  Goddell has literally sacrificed offensive players' legs for the sake of their brains!  At some point in the not-too-distant future, it will literally be 2-hand touch out there.

Richard--Ramirez
Richard--Ramirez

Cheap shot, Swearinger should be banned for the season.

zzloz77
zzloz77

THIS WAS A DELIBERATE DIRTY HIT DESIGNED TO INJURE..AND THEN HE CELEBRATES AFTERWARDS? WHAT A LOWLIFE SUCK THIS SWEARINGER IS...I HOPE THE SAME HAPPENS TO THIS PRIQUE..HE SHOWS NO RESPECT FOR A FELLOW PLAYER , TAKING AWAY HIS LIVELYHOOD BECAUSE ...WELL.. HE'S AN A-HOLE WHO NEVER LEARNED RESPECT AND FAIR PLAY.

mystafugee
mystafugee

I hope he returns 100%, on the bright side, he won't have to endure the wear and tear of a season where you're playing for 6 wins.  

MichaelWallis1
MichaelWallis1

Wow that's big blow for the Dolphins. He would have been the number two offensive weapon behind Michael Wallace.

ArthurIanReyes
ArthurIanReyes

The NFL has taught if a guy is bigger than you then to go for his legs for years

oo0tusa0oo
oo0tusa0oo

(“With the rules in this era, you’ve got to hit low,” Swearinger said. “If I would have hit him high, I would have gotten a fine. So I think I made the smartest play. I’m sorry it happened … Right now it’s just instinct. You see somebody come across the middle, you gotta go low. You’re going to cost your team 15 yards. You’ve got to play within the rules.”)  

So I guess hitting a player around the waist is considered high to Swearinger, I have a feeling this won't be the last player he hurts, after all he said it himself, “If I would have hit him high, I would have gotten a fine. So I think I made the smartest play".

FrankJamesRocha
FrankJamesRocha

and nobody ever said body tackling is wrong or bad. its just too bad coaches don't emphasize it more.

FrankJamesRocha
FrankJamesRocha

@ArthurIanReyes thats nonsense. body tackle or TRIP HIM UP. that doesn't mean aim your helmet at his knees and break them. at this level they are too well versed at their craft to have the excuse of not knowing how to tackle a bigger player without causing injury.

Mike26
Mike26

@oo0tusa0oo I was there, saw the hit live, and it looked/sounded bad.  Swearinger is correct:  the higher you hit, the more penalties/fines/suspensions you would draw.  Hitting a big guy at the waist like Keller would be a sure missed tackle.  

BTW, later in the Tanneyhill hung out Hartline and Brandon Harris did everything but dive out his way from behind; instead, he lightly brushed Hartline on the back of his right shoulder with Harris's left shoulder and was called for a hit on a defenseless WR.  So before you get on your high horse about what you feel was a dirty hit, read again what he said and this time try to comprehend it and relate it to the NFL world today.

morphy
morphy

@oo0tusa0oo  

he isn't the only player who will hit someone like that. PLENTY in the NFL.

strategicals
strategicals

@oo0tusa0oo Not an intelligent comment my friend.  His point is that he has to think about where he is hitting an opponent and going in low gives him the least amount of concern with regards to a fine or penalty.  Football is a collision sport and the more you have to think about how you're going to hit someone the less effective you are.  The more you do by instinct and repetitive practice the quicker you can react on defense.  All teams are practicing low hitting now, not just this one individual.

FrankJamesRocha
FrankJamesRocha

@morphy @oo0tusa0oo if that was true than this injury would happen ALL THE TIME. but it doesn't so what does that tell you? it means the others aren't intent on causing injury.

FrankJamesRocha
FrankJamesRocha

@strategicals @oo0tusa0oo this is not an intelligent reply. His excuse was tailored to concerns about money and fines and had nothing to do with concerns about the health and well being of the opposing players. body tackling is not a high hit. wrapping him up is not hitting high. shoulder tackling is not hitting high to the helmet either. for that matter NOT leading with your helmet has been an emphasis lately. guess his coach didn't get the memo. 

and your misinformed if you think all teams are practicing hitting low, thats just wrong on your part and assumed at best. I've seen more body tackling than anything else.