Cards rookie Rolle out for season with knee injury

The Arizona Cardinals have lost rookie cornerback Antrel Rolle, the team's first-round draft choice this year, for the rest of the season.

Rolle suffered what was originally believed to have been cartilage damage to his left knee in a Sept. 25 loss at Seattle, and was expected to be sidelined for three or four weeks. But during Monday morning surgery by Dr. John Uribe of Miami to ostensibly repair the meniscus cartilage, more severe damage was discovered.

The arthroscopic surgery revealed ligament damage, which was not anticipated, and the involvement of the ligaments is sufficient enough to sideline Rolle for the balance of the season. The severity of the knee problem came as not only a surprise to Arizona officials but also a blow to the Cardinals' defense. Rolle was also said to have been shocked by the more serious knee condition.

The eighth overall player selected in the 2005 draft, Rolle was named a starter even before training camp opened. The former University of Miami standout, regarded by many as the top cornerback in this year's rookie class, started the first three games of the season until the injury against the Seahawks sent him to the sideline.

Rolle, 22, had 18 tackles in the three games that he started at left cornerback.

In Sunday's victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Mexico City, fifth-year veteran Raymond Walls replaced Rolle in the lineup, and is likely to retain the No. 1 job for now. The Cardinals last week signed veteran free agent Robert Tate, who had played for coach Dennis Green in Minnesota, to help compensate for the lack of cornerback depth.

"You hate to see any player get an injury that takes him out of
the season, particularly since it's so early in the season and you
hate to see your front-line guy taken out of the year," Green
said. "But we'll march on with it. The guys that filled in did a
pretty good job yesterday. They played hard and they kept pace with
the rest of the guys on the defense."

The Cardinals signed Rolle, who they expected to be an impact performer even in his first season, to a six-year contract with a maximum value of $43.185 million.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.