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Just like that, Redskins' Meriweather done after tearing ACL

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Loss of safety is a big blow to defense

ASHBURN -- The Redskins discovered Sunday what they had been missing. And they liked it. Brandon Meriweather was active. He provided energy. He intercepted a pass.

Then he got hurt. And now his season is done.

Meriweather tore the ACL in his right knee in Sunday's 31-6 win over Philadelphia and will miss the rest of the season. It's yet another blow to a defense that finally played a complete game. It had lost starters Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker to injuries earlier this season. It also lost safety Tanard Jackson to a drug suspension before the season.

The Redskins did not realize how badly Meriweather was hurt during the game. He exited in the third quarter and said afterward that he did not return because of the score. Meriweather said it was just a sprain and even told Shanahan he would be ready to play Thursday vs. Dallas.

That's not the case.

"He was obviously shocked, disappointed," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "He loves football. He has an energy out there, one of the reasons we brought him in. It's unfortunate because he's been healthy [before this season]. Hopefully he can take care of that and be back next year ready to go."

Meriweather's impact was obvious Sunday. In less than three full quarters, Meriweather made seven tackles and intercepted a pass and played with an energy that had been missing on defense much of the season. He added speed, something the Redskins have needed at safety.

Meriweather tweeted Monday, "I want to start off by saying I'm sorry to all the redskins fan. Y'all are the best. But this was a bad season for me. ... I promise that I'll be back next yr better then ever. Hard work pays off. God had something different for me this year. So see y'all next yr."

His teammates were happy to have him back.

"He brought a spark to the whole team," end Stephen Bowen said. "Everybody saw how much of an impact he makes."

Meriweather is not the only Redskins player with an injury issue heading into Thursday's game. Cornerback Josh Wilson suffered a second-degree sprain of his rotator cuff late in the game. Linebacker London Fletcher sprained his left ankle. Shanahan said he wasn't sure whether either would be available Thursday. However, Fletcher returned Sunday after spraining his ankle. Fletcher has appeared in 234 consecutive games.

With Meriweather out, the Redskins will start either DeJon Gomes or Reed Doughty. Gomes replaced Meriweather on Sunday and played well. But Gomes saw his playing time reduced after starting the first three games. Doughty had started the previous six games before Sunday.

But Doughty's consistency could be trumped by Gomes' speed. Gomes used that speed to crash into an Eagles receiver and jar the ball loose, preventing a completion.

"DJ did a good job after Brandon went down," Shanahan said. "He had a nice hit in there. ... Hopefully it continues and he plays at a high level."

If Fletcher can't play, then Lorenzo Alexander would take his place. Cedric Griffin would start for Wilson.

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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