(Scott Halleran / Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller suffered a devastating knee injury Saturday night, one that could be career-threatening.

(Brett Coomer / AP) (Brett Coomer / AP)

Keller tore his anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments, his medial collateral ligament and also dislocated his knee on a low hit by D.J. Swearinger of the Houston Texans. In addition, doctors fear that Keller may have suffered nerve damage as well, the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero reports.

The key to Keller’s football-playing future may lie with whether there’s nerve damage. Dr. Mark Adickes, an orthopedic surgeon who performed the first anterior cruciate ligament repair on Robert Griffin III when he was playing at Baylor, tweeted his medical opinion on Keller (whom he has not examined):

In the immediate aftermath of the injury Saturday, Swearinger defended the hit, saying he changed his style to hitting low after getting “like three helmet-to-helmet [penalties]” in college.

“With the rules in this era you’ve got to hit low,” Swearinger told ESPN.com. “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 and I pray he has a speedy recovery. … 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.”

Keller, who caught one pass for 14 yards Saturday night, signed a one-year, $4.25-million contract with Miami after playing five years with the New York Jets. He played in only eight games last season because of hamstring and ankle injuries.

“I just want everyone to know that as disappointing as this is I don’t want anybody feeling sorry for me,” Keller wrote NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport in an email. “It’s going to be a hard road back, but I promise I’m going to come back stronger, faster and be a better player than before.

“I’m very confident that my team is going to have a great season and even though I won’t be on the field this year I am behind my guys 100%! More than anything, I’d like to thank all my family, friends and teammates for their prayers and support. I’m glad to have the support system in my life that I do.”

If he’s looking for inspiration as he begins his recovery, he might turn his attention to Marcus Lattimore, the South Carolina running back who suffered a similarly devastating knee injury last fall and continues his recovery after being drafted this spring by the San Francisco 49ers.

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