Carolina Panthers cornerback Ross Cockrell fractured his left tibia and fibula Monday after colliding with wide receiver Torrey Smith during a training-camp practice.
Reporters who were present during the collision painted a somewhat gruesome picture of the scene, with the Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue writing that she “could actually hear a bone crack and scream from Cockrell.” The Observer’s Joe Person, meanwhile, reported that Cockrell was yelling “my leg is broke” while writhing in pain on the ground.
Coach Ron Rivera ended the team’s practice in the wake of Cockrell’s injury.
Rivera did not have specifics on Cockrell’s injury when he talked to reporters after practice, merely saying his left foot got caught under Smith as the wide receiver went to the ground to make a catch in the end zone. But later Monday, the team reported Cockrell would have surgery on his broken left leg.
Carolina’s secondary was not thought to be an area of strength: Pro Football Focus has ranked it 29th in the league entering the season, and that’s with the expectation that Cockrell would get some heavy usage after signing in the offseason. But an injury to Cockrell likely would thrust rookie Donte Jackson into a starting role across from James Bradberry, who hasn’t exactly stood out in his two NFL seasons. (Jackson also left Monday’s practice with what’s being described as a minor groin injury.) So a bad situation may have just gotten a whole lot worse for the Panthers.
Cockrell “represented the energy, he represented the system,” Panthers defensive coordinator Eric Washington told the team’s website. “Our system being the way we want to do things — our culture. The highest standard of our culture on defense.
“We’re going to close ranks and represent exactly who he is with our play. We’re going to close ranks as a defense, and we’re going to perform because we love him.”
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