Duke's Brown suffers knee injury
Duke’s first scrimmage of the preseason took a sour turn very quickly Monday.
All-ACC linebacker Kelby Brown injured his left knee on the second play of the scrimmage at Brooks Practice Facility.
Working with the first-team defense, Brown was rushing quarterback Anthony Boone when he crumpled to the ground in the backfield. He immediately pounded his fist on the ground and yelled, “No!” before the medical staff came to his aid.
He was helped off the field, putting some weight on his left leg, and was treated on-site before being carted off a few minutes later for further exams. Dr. Claude T. Moorman, Duke’s head team physician, was on site at the scrimmage and aided in Brown’s immediate treatment.
After the scrimmage, Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Brown would have an MRI exam of the knee. No further information was available about the severity of the injury.
“We’ll just have to see what the results are and move forward from there,” Cutcliffe said.
Duke junior running back Shaquille Powell blocked Brown on the play when he was injured. Powell said he wasn’t sure whether Brown was hit by another player or if his knee simply buckled during the play.
“Kelby blitzed on the play,” Powell said. “I picked him up. As soon as the play ended I could tell. He started grabbing his knee. He was limping off and sat down.”
Kelby Brown’s parents, Connie and Kelby Brown, were in attendance for the closed scrimmage, watching Kelby and his younger brother, Duke defensive end Kyler Brown, play.
Kelby Brown is all too familiar with serious knee injuries. The redshirt senior has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee twice during his career. One of the injuries caused him to miss the 2012 season. The other torn ligament occurred in November 2010 near the end of Brown’s freshman season.
Monday’s injury occurred on a dry field before the rain began to fall. Duke was practicing on its FieldTurf practice field. Duke opens its season Aug. 30 at home against Elon.
Brown recorded 114 tackles last season when Duke went 10-4 to win the ACC Coastal Division championship and finish No. 23 in the final Associated Press poll. Known for his knack for making big plays, Brown had 11 tackles for losses, one sack, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Deion Williams replaced Kelby Brown on the first-team defense after Monday's injury. Cutcliffe said it was too soon to say if Williams would step into Brown’s starting role if he is sidelined for a significant period of time.
Williams played alongside senior linebacker David Helton, who led the ACC in tackles (133) last season.
With Helton and Brown returning, the Blue Devils have one of the most experienced and productive linebacker groups in the ACC.
Brown’s injury impacted the defense emotionally, Helton said.
“We were definitely trying to come together,” Helton said. “It was a tough time seeing him over there hurt. So we were coming together and finding leadership among ourselves.”
Powell called Brown Duke’s best defensive player.
“Kelby is an amazing person,” Powell said. “It hurts because he’s a great leader for the team, a great defensive player. I think he’s our best defensive player. It really hurts the team but we are going to be there for him no matter what.”