-Rare picture of the 09 Kemoeatu courtesy of Yahoo News.
Well guys, the news has arrived. I hope you guys have prepared yourself, cause it isn't good news. As you know, I made an article earlier this morning speaking of how Kemo and Beason had injured themselves during practice. My intention when I made that article was to both report on the facts and stir up a little bit of panic. "Surely." I thought. "This injury is no big deal. Kemo has probably just been lazy in the offseason and he needs to get back in shape."
That was what I and a fair amount of you guys thought this day. I was in the belief that tonight we'd find out that it was just a minor ankle sprain or something along those lines and we'd just be able to laugh up the panic that was happening all over the web. But then the news arrived: Kemo is out for the season due to a torn Achilles tendon.
This is big folks. Really big deal. On a scale of one to ten, this hits at around a high eight or a low nine. Losing Kemo is going to scale back our run defense a good deal. How much depends on the development of DT Corvey Irvin, but either way this is going to cause us some trouble for two reasons.
One: Kemo was pretty good at grabbing double teams along the interior of the offensive lines. It was his large presence that allowed Jon Beason to roam sideline to sideline and have the huge year that he had. Without him, expect Jon Beason to deal with more guards and fullbacks than he did last year.
Two: His interior pressure. When push came to shove in one on one situations, if another linemen didn't give his buddy some help with an initial push, Kemo was pushing his guy into the backfield. He's not a guy that will make many sacks, but he had an ability to disrupt and collapse the pocket and spring Julius Peppers for a sack. How many times have you seen Kemo start to push inward and grab attention from the line just to have Peppers sneak around the back and wrap up the QB?
Corvey Irvin is going to be his replacement, and he's got quite a lot of work to do if he's going to be ready. He's got about two months to put on some weight. He's got a bigger frame than Lewis and he's still a rookie so I bet he'd be able to put some weight on and still be able to play well.
Barring massive shenanigans like what we faced today, Corvey Irvin is going to be the rookie to watch during training camp. Everette Brown? Sherrod Martin? We drafted them both with a set of expectations that they would be able to contribute to the team right away. Irvin was drafted with the expectation that he would have a couple of years to develop behind Kemo. He now has a couple of months.
But then you have to step back and take a deep breath. You have to remember, even though Kemo was a key cog, he is still just one player on the defense. When one man goes down, others rise and take their place. That's been a law of the game ever since the game came into existence. Super Bowls have been won in spite of injuries, not because the team hasn't suffered any.
Corvey Irvin may or may not fill in the void that Kemo left in our defense, but we already knew that our DL wasn't going to be one of our strong positions this year. With our talented linebacker core and our elite backfield, we still have the potential to be a great defense. We have a new defensive coordinator from the Colts in Ron Meeks, whom has dealt with a lack of depth before at DT and dealt with it well with multiple playoff appearances.
In Carolina, it is not time to panic. Let's sit back and see what we can bring out of Irvin. Let us also remember: We're not the only ones losing guys to injuries. The Eagles just lost LB Steward Bradley for the season, and we're facing them in Week 1.
Relax guys. It isn't the end of the world.