Eighth-year veteran Rob Morris, whose move to strongside linebacker toward the end of last season helped to solidify the Indianapolis Colts' defense against the run, underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a tendon in his left knee and will likely miss the rest of the season.
Morris, 32, was injured in Sunday's victory over the Denver Broncos when a blocker rolled into his leg. His leg was immobilized and he left the field on a cart.
Team officials all but acknowledged that Morris will not play again in 2007 and that he will be placed on injured reserve.
"Everybody feels nothing but gratitude for all the great things he had done for the franchise, and we all wish him well," general manager Bill Polian said. "Hopefully, he'll be ready to go next year. He's as good as it gets."
The Colts' first-round choice in the 2000 draft, Morris earned the starting middle linebacker job in his second season and held it for five years (2001-05), posting 100 tackles or more in three of those seasons. In 2005, he lost the starting job to Gary Brackett and, for two years played primarily on special teams.
But with the Colts at the bottom of the league in defense versus the run late last season, the coaching staff inserted Morris into the lineup at strongside linebacker, a position that he had never played before, and he performed admirably. He started five games, and then all four games in the playoffs, as Indianapolis won Super Bowl XLI.
His performance against the run, and the return of free safety Bob Sanders to the lineup, were the keys to the team's remarkable defensive improvement.
In two games this season, Morris had 13 tackles.
For his career, the former Brigham Young star has 544 tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception. Morris has appeared in 99 games and started in 67 of them. His best season was in 2002, when he recorded 130 tackles.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com