Tackle may have serious knee ligament harm

Updated: October 3, 2004, 6:05 PM ET
Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami tackle Eric Winston is out for the season after injuring his left knee during the Hurricanes' 27-3 win at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Miami coach Larry Coker wouldn't give specifics of the injury Sunday, but preliminary indications were that Winston might have serious ligament damage.

"He's maybe our best offensive player, definitely our best offensive lineman," center Joel Rodriguez said. "For him to go down, it's a blow to our offense."

More tests to determine the severity of the injury were scheduled, and 6-foot-7, 310-pound Winston is expected to undergo surgery sometime in the next few days.

"Usually, two to three bad things happen every year," Coker said. "And you don't like to think in those terms, but they do. It's not what happens that's important, but how you react to it."

Rashad Butler, who started four games in 2003 and was projected as a starter this year before injuring his left ankle during training camp, likely will take Winston's spot in the lineup for the fourth-ranked Hurricanes (4-0, 2-0 ACC). It's unclear whether Butler will play left tackle; more positional juggling among the linemen may occur, Coker said.

"We have more depth on the offensive line than we've had since I've been here," Coker said. "That's the positive part of it."

The Hurricanes also have a bit of time to figure out what to do; they're off until Oct. 14, when they'll host Louisville (4-0).

"He's a great football player," Coker said. "And you don't lose a great football player without missing him."

Winston was injured with 10:42 remaining against Georgia Tech, when he fell over Tech linebacker Chris Reis and Miami quarterback Kyle Wright.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press