Panthers: Rucker lost for season

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Associated Press

CHARLOTTE — Carolina Panthers all-time sacks leader Mike Rucker will miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Rucker suffered the season-ending injury late in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh, moments after being credited with a half sack that raised his career total with the team to 52.5.

“It was kind of a fluke thing where the tight end bumped into one of our players and his knee got tangled in that,” coach John Fox said Monday.

Recovery from a torn ACL can take up to a year, and the 31-year-old Rucker is due a $2.5 million roster bonus in March, making it possible Rucker has played his last game with the Panthers. Fox declined to discuss Rucker’s future with the team.

“It’s a hard thing moving forward. It’s a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of pain,” said Fox, who talked with Rucker on Sunday night. “I’d say he’s in pain.”

Rucker was Carolina’s second-round pick in 1999. He made the Pro Bowl in 2003, when the Panthers reached the Super Bowl.