This is a tough break for Nephi Sewell. The New Orleans Saints linebacker suffered a season-ending ACL injury during Week 17’s big road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sewell’s knee buckled on a non-contact play as he ran with a receiver in coverage on Alontae Taylor’s interception of Baker Mayfield, and he needed assistance leaving the field on a trainer’s cart. Saints head coach Dennis Allen confirmed the bad news on Monday when meeting with local media.
Sewell, 25, had played himself into a real role defensively as the top backup for middle linebacker Demario Davis. A former undrafted free agent out of Utah and one of three brothers in the NFL (along with Detroit Lions right tackle Penei Sewell and Chicago Bears linebacker Noah Sewell), he earned reps on defense by playing well on special teams as a rookie in 2022. This season he ranked fifth on the team in snaps played in the kicking game (266).
But the timing of this injury couldn’t be worse. It could take as many as nine months for Sewell to recover functionality in his knee, and it’ll take longer than that for him to regain trust in the surgically-repaired joint, as is the case for every athlete who experiences this type of injury. That’s going to cost him valuable snaps at practice throughout the offseason program and likely the beginning of training camp in July.
Still, Sewell has overcome adversity before, and he has a great support system. He overcame a serious neck injury in his junior year of high school, and he’s taken the hard road to the NFL as an undrafted player who had to earn his snaps. He’s still under contract for 2024 and should return with a good chance to contribute in the fall, but it’s going to be a while before fans see him out on the field goal. Here’s to a full and speedy recovery for him.