The New York Jets have lost linebacker Antwan Barnes for the rest of the 2013 NFL season. On Wednesday, the team announced that it has placed Barnes on injured reserve and re-signed linebacker Ricky Sapp in a corresponding move:
We have signed LB Ricky Sapp to the active roster and have placed LB Antwan Barnes on Injured Reserve...— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 9, 2013
Barnes went down in the fourth quarter of New York's Week 5 victory against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night, his right knee appearing to buckle as he tried to rush quarterback Matt Ryan. Kristian Dyer of Metro New York spoke to a source and shared the severity of the injury:
Hearing from a team source that Antwan Barnes has a torn ACL.— Kristian Dyer (@KristianRDyer) October 9, 2013
Earlier on Wednesday morning, Barnes tweeted out a message to the supportive Jets fans:
Just want to take the time to thank everyone who is supporting me through this time...my spirits is still high and I will be back..#Jetpride— Antwan Barnes (@AntwanBarnes42) October 9, 2013
How significant is this loss for New York?
The Jets signed Barnes to a three-year contract this offseason, and through five regular-season games he had emerged as a solid change-of-pace pass-rusher in the team's nickel package. According to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, Barnes played in 41 percent of the defensive snaps while leading the team with 12 quarterback hits to go along with his two sacks.
Barnes isn't a starter—he backs up first-stringers Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace—but in today's air-it-out league, situational pass-rushers have become an important part of any defense.
Little fanfare surrounded Barnes' decision to sign a free-agent deal this offseason, but Chris Lopresti of WFAN thinks his loss will be a challenge for the Jets to overcome:
Oh boy. Antwan Barnes to injured reserve. #NYJ re-signs Ricky Sapp. Big blow to Rex's defense.— Chris Lopresti (@CLoprestiWFAN) October 9, 2013
Meanwhile, Sapp returns to the Jets after being released by the team on Oct. 5. He has been with the Jets since 2011, spending most of his time on the practice squad. He's played in two games and has made one tackle this year.
ACL injuries are never good, but athletes like Adrian Peterson and Robert Griffin III are showing that recovery times have been shortened from the usual 12-plus months it used to take players to recover. But with the Super Bowl set to take place in less than four months, the earliest Jets fans can expect to see him back is the 2014 offseason training program.