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Eagles DE Kearse out for season

PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 18, 2006) -- Jevon Kearse's season is over because of a severe knee injury the star defensive end sustained in Philadelphia's overtime loss to the New York Giants.

Kearse, who had 2 1/2 sacks in the game Sept. 17, badly sprained multiple ligaments in his left knee when his leg knocked against Mike Patterson while the two brought down Eli Manning on New York's first possession of the extra period. Kearse reached for his knee immediately after the play, was helped off the field and carted to the locker room.

The injury includes sprains of the medial collateral ligament, the lateral collateral ligament, and the posterior cruciate ligament. Treatment options have yet to be determined, though surgery is likely.

Several other starters are injured, but Kearse's injury is the most serious. Guard Shawn Andrews strained his shoulder, cornerback Rod Hood left with a heel injury, tight end L.J. Smith sprained his shoulder and running back Brian Westbrook has swelling in his knee.

Kearse was in his third season with the Eagles after signing an eight-year contract in 2004. He had 7½ sacks in each of his first two seasons in Philadelphia after getting at least 9½ in four of his five years in Tennessee. He already had 3½ sacks in two games and seemed poised to have an outstanding season.

Kearse's injury should give former first-round pick Jerome McDougle an opportunity to play after he was inactive the first two games. Backup ends Trent Cole (four) and Juqua Thomas (two) have combined for six sacks while getting plenty of playing time in defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's eight-man line rotation.

The Eagles already have 13 sacks this season, including 12 from a revamped defensive line that had only 21½ of the team's 29 sacks last year.

A first-round pick by Tennessee in 1999, Kearse quickly established himself as one of the NFL's premier sack artists and earned the nickname: "The Freak."

Kearse had 36 sacks and went to the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons, twice earning All-Pro honors. But he had only 11½ sacks in his last two injury-plagued seasons with the Titans. He missed 12 games with a broken bone in his left foot in 2002, sprained the same foot the following year and missed nearly three games.

Kearse had missed three games with the Eagles, but two of those came in 2004 after Philadelphia had clinched first place in the conference and rested its regulars.

AP NEWS
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