New England Patriots place linebacker Raekwon McMillan on injured reserve with torn ACL

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who had made a strong first impression on coach Bill Belichick and was on his way to carving out a notable role in his first year with the team, tore his ACL in a recent practice and was placed on injured reserve Saturday.

McMillan, an Ohio State alum, entered the NFL as a second-round draft choice of the Miami Dolphins in 2017. He played last season for the Las Vegas Raiders and signed a one-year, $1.15 million deal with the Patriots in March.

This past Monday, McMillan was a top performer at practice, with two pass breakups. Belichick had also praised him, saying, "I've been very impressed with his intelligence, his work ethic. He's locked in every day."

McMillan, who suffered a torn ACL in his rookie season as well, wasn't projected as a starter in the team's base defense, but given the variety of packages the team plays, he was expected to be part of various game plans on a week-to-week basis.

On Tuesday, McMillan walked slowly off the field after pulling up while covering a punt, then departed with the medical staff.

Ja'Whaun Bentley and Dont'a Hightower are the Patriots' starting inside linebackers, with 2020 third-round pick Anfernee Jennings a top backup. Veteran Kyle Van Noy can also play that position if the Patriots elect to move him from his outside linebacker spot.

New England also placed 2020 third-round pick Dalton Keene, a tight end from Virginia Tech, on injured reserve Saturday. Second-year tight end Devin Asiasi was activated off the COVID-19 reserve list, as well, and linebacker Cassh Maluia was signed to a contract.