Giants rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly tore the ACL in his right knee on Sunday and is out for the season, an MRI confirmed on Monday.
“It’s unfortunate, but he’s got a real bright future and he’ll come back from this,” head coach Pat Shurmur said, “He was doing a lot of really good things for us. He’s a young player. Part of being a pro sometimes is coming back from injury. If he approaches this the way he has approached playing in the game, he’ll be back to full strength here soon.”
The timing of Connelly’s injury is frustrating because it’s coming off his best game, in his first full game making all of the defensive calls.
Connelly (90.7) was one of three Giants defenders who graded in the 90s in Sunday’s win over Washington, just barely trailing Janoris Jenkins (92.8) and Jabrill Peppers (91.3).
He had an interception in each of the last two games and sacked Washington’s Case Keenum, as well.
Sunday was Connelly’s third straight start but his first as the club’s top active linebacker in place of veteran Alec Ogletree (hamstring), who typically receives the calls from coordinator James Bettcher and communicates them on the field to the rest of the defense.
Connelly took over that role in Week 3’s second half in Tampa, though, after Ogletree got hurt in that win. And he’d carried it over into a strong performance Sunday before suffering a non-contact injury in the fourth quarter as he pursued the ball.
He was carted off the field and on crutches after the game, and the news of his torn ACL unfortunately was expected.
Connelly, a fifth-round pick out of Wisconsin, rapidly became a valuable member of Bettcher’s defense after a strong spring and was seeing early first-team reps in camp.
Tae Davis started over him in Dallas in Week 1, but that didn’t even last a full half before Connelly overtook him.
David Mayo started alongside Connelly this past Sunday with both Ogletree and Davis (concussion) sidelined. Nate Stupar also played some toward the end of Sunday’s win.
Shurmur said there is a “chance” both Ogletree and Davis return in Week 5 against the Minnesota Vikings, but he doesn’t know for sure yet.
The Vikings are coming off a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears but still third in the NFL in rushing at 155.2 yards per game behind stud back Dalvin Cook.
Losing Connelly leaves the Giants decimated at an already shorthanded spot on the field.
The Giants placed Connelly on injured reserve and claimed rookie edge rusher Chris Peace off waivers from the Chargers on Monday.
The undrafted rookie out of Virginia played three special teams snaps in the Chargers’ Week 1 win over the Colts.
Peace (6-2, 250 pounds) played in 50 games in four seasons at Virginia. He made 198 tackles (94 solo), 29.5 tackles for loss, and had 17 sacks, four forced fumbles, an interception and five passes defensed.
Wideout Sterling Shepard cramped in Sunday’s second half, so that was why he was tended to by trainers. He was not injured, per Shurmur. Edge Lorenzo Carter has a neck injury that Shurmur called “game soreness.” The coach said the Giants are “hopeful” he’ll be back.