Literally adding injury to insult, Atlanta Falcons cornerback Kevin Mathis will miss the rest of the season after suffering a catastrophic injury to his left knee during the team's Wednesday practice.
ESPN.com confirmed Wednesday night through several sources, including agent Drew Pittman, that Mathis tore the anterior cruciate ligament and two of the three other ligaments in his knee when he landed awkwardly during the afternoon practice while defending a pass. Mathis will undergo surgery next week and will be placed on injured reserve.
Just the anterior cruciate ligament injury alone would be enough to end Mathis' season. But the damage to other ligaments could make the injury career-threatening and the ninth-year veteran certainly faces a long rehabilitation to get back on the field again.
The injury came only two days after Mathis was ejected from the Monday night game against Philadelphia for fighting with Eagles middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter during the pregame warmups.
"It hasn't exactly been the best week for him, has it?" Pittman said. "He feels terrible about what happened the other night, and now this. It's tough."
Mathis started 12 games in 2004 and figured to be used extensively in passing situations this season, providing depth at cornerback behind starters DeAngelo Hall and Jason Webster.
After watching the Falcons' 14-10 victory from home, Mathis rejoined his teammates to begin practicing for Sunday's game at Seattle. On an innocent-looking play down the sideline, he went up to knock away a pass and came down awkwardly.
The Falcons went into the season carrying five cornerbacks, including return specialist Allen Rossum and rookie Leigh Torrence. They don't have any cornerbacks on their practice squad.
In another potential blow to the team's secondary depth, Rossum was shaken up toward the end of practice, apparently tweaking his hamstring. He was listed as questionable for Sunday.
Pro Bowl linebacker Keith Brooking (foot) and first-round pick Roddy White (ankle) were held out of practice, but Falcons coach Jim Mora said they would play against the Seahawks (0-1).
Mathis and Trotter will be fined $10,000 each for the incident. Hall said he's also been told to expect a fine for snatching a Philadelphia player's helmet and throwing it to the turf during the scuffle.
"I did get informed that they're going to be fined," Mora said. "The league has an image to protect. I thought the officials did a really good job of defusing what could have been a pretty intense situation. Unfortunately, two good players did not get to play an important game."