UPDATED: Monday, October 24, 2011, 4:24 p.m.
Further examination on the left knee of Redskins running back Tim Hightower Monday morning confirmed a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Hightower, who landed awkwardly early in the third quarter of Sundays loss at Carolina, underwent X-rays (which were negative) at Bank of America Stadium, but he left the locker room wearing a balky brace and requiring crutches.
Acquired in a preseason trade with Arizona, Hightower seized the starting job when Ryan Torain broke his hand and leads the Redskins in carries (84) and rushing yards (321).
At the time of his injury, he was having a fine performance -- 17 rushes for 88 yards -- after not playing in Week 6 against Philadelphia.
Tim has handled himself extremely well, played very good in this game coming back, coach Mike Shanahan said. He was ready to play. Its always tough to lose a player like that.
Hightower is headed for the season-ending injured reserve list, and a roster decision will be made before practice Wednesday. An in-house candidate is practice squad rookie Evan Royster.
Ryan Torain and Roy Helu are the replacements for Hightower.
You have to be able to go in and play whenever Coach asks you to, Torain said. Our coach gets us ready for every game like we are the starter, and we have to have that mentality.
Helu said: Its tough to lose a guy like Tim. Its another opportunity like any other position. We have to come up and really pick up the slack.
Aside from his yardage production, the Redskins need to replace Hightowers ability in pass protection.
I feel very comfortable with Ryan; hes gotten a lot better in the last year with his blitz pickup. He has improved drastically, Shanahan said. With Helu not doing a lot of it in college and being released into a pass route most of the time, hes come in here and done a good job and did a good job in the game.
Hightower will be missed on and off the field. After the Carolina loss, several players said he gave a speech in the locker room.
Anytime you lose a player that has the type of energy that Tim does and the type of game he has, obviously everybody feels disappointed and feels bad for Tim because hes worked so hard to get himself into this position, Shanahan said. But everybody understands youre going to lose some players.
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