The Ravens had their fears confirmed.
Top cornerback Lardarius Webb tore his left ACL and will miss the rest of the season. This is the second ACL tear Webb has suffered in his four-year career, as he tore his right ACL during his rookie season.
The Ravens braced for the news after Sunday's game against the Cowboys, knowing that the injury didn't look good when Webb fell to the turf, clutching his knee.
"Lardarius yesterday was distraught," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I could see it when I walked on the field, on his face. He kind of knew because he's been through it before. I just felt like he knew. He was just beside himself."
The news about Webb came on the same day that the Ravens also lost legendary linebacker Ray Lewis for the season with a torn triceps muscle.
"I'm disappointed for those guys," Harbaugh said. "It doesn't matter how I or someone else feels about it. It's their thing. These are guys that put so much heart and soul into what they do."
With Webb out for the season, the Ravens will turn to second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith!(/team/roster/jimmy-smith/d34e6e1f-a731-47cb-aa66-a63f9b6387ae/ "Jimmy Smith") to take over the starting job opposite Cary Williams. Free-agent signing Corey Graham will likely take over the nickel back role, with second-year cornerback Chykie Brown and rookie Asa Jackson also competing for playing time.
"I feel great about our guys' chances to fill in," Harbaugh said. "That's something we've been able to do in the past. That's what you have to be able to do."
Webb's injury will take a toll on the Ravens defense from a leadership and a competitive standpoint. He had solidified himself as the team's franchise cornerback this season after signing a six-year contract extension reportedly worth $50 million in the offseason, and was having a Pro Bowl start to the season.
He had 25 tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery and six passes defended on the season.
"Lardarius had become one of the premier corners in the league," Harbaugh said. "I'm biased. I'd say he's the best. Maybe some people would question that, but I don't question that. I see him every day."
Webb, 27, has shown already that he can recover from a torn ACL. He has a long road of recovery ahead, but the Ravens are confident that he will return to form next season.
"He will be back," Harbaugh said. "He has been through this before. He will rehab like crazy and he will be back next year, stronger than ever. He's just that kind of guy."