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For as memorable and obvious an injury as was that to DT Eric Foster, it was an inconsequential-looking misstep by OT Ben Ijalana that resulted in his joining Foster on the IR. Early in the fourth quarter, with Ijalana in at left tackle for an injured Anthony Castonzo, Ijalana took a couple of steps back at the snap and stepped awkwardly on his left foot. His knee locked underneath him and twisted slightly, at least partly tearing his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
The ACL is the ligament that controls the side-to-side movement of the knee joint. While people can walk straight ahead with a torn ACL (assuming they have no more pain), it is difficult to “cut” to the left or right. A torn ACL requires reconstructive surgery, usually by taking a segment of the patellar tendon (the tendon that runs from the bottom of the kneecap down to the shin bone). For professional athletes, surgeons may consider using a cadaver ligament for the graft because using that from the patellar tendon risks weakening the kneecap (just ask Jerry Rice). Rehabilitation after surgery will take 4-6 months.
Assuming everything goes smoothly, Ijalana should be available for OTAs in 2012. We can also expect him to participate in training camp next July.