Terrapins football wide receiver Deon Long underwent successful surgery on his fractured right tibia and fibula yesterday morning, coach Randy Edsall announced on his weekly conference call. He also said Long is expected to return in six months.
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who suffered a broken fibula in the Terps’ 34-10 loss at Wake Forest on Saturday, could have surgery later this week or early next week, Edsall said. Doctors told Edsall that Diggs’ recovery time is estimated to be about four months.
Long was injured in the second quarter when he was blocking on a play and a Demon Deacons defender rolled up on his right leg. He was driven from the field on a cart and put in an ambulance before he was taken to a local hospital for X-rays. Diggs was injured in the fourth quarter when he was tackled after making a catch. He was walked to the sideline before exiting the field on a cart.
The loss of Diggs and Long deprives the Terps of arguably their two top playmakers for the rest of the season. The duo combined to catch 66 passes for 1,076 yards and four touchdowns this season and often befuddled defenses. When teams would try to take away Long, Diggs would have opportunities for big plays, and vice versa.
The Terps’ third starting wide receiver from the beginning of the season, Nigel King, also has battled injuries this year.
Levern Jacobs and Amba Etta-Tawo are expected to step in for Diggs and Long, respectively. Jacobs, a sophomore, scored the Terps’ lone touchdown Saturday on a 56-yard catch-and-run and finished with 78 yards on three catches. Etta-Tawo, a redshirt freshman, caught six passes for 69 yards. Malcolm Culmer, another redshirt freshman, played in King’s spot at times Saturday but did not catch a pass.
“We have Levern, Malcolm, Nigel and Amba. Those four have all played this year,” Edsall said. “Again, now what we got to do is decide what that depth is going to be. Decisions will be made [today].”
Edsall also declined to give updates on running back Brandon Ross, who left the game in the third quarter, and quarterback C.J. Brown, who was replaced by backup Caleb Rowe in the third quarter.
“There won’t be any updates until Thursday, unless other surgeries are announced,” Edsall said.
The third-year coach did allude to Brown potentially suffering an injury. Brown was sacked three times by the Wake Forest defense and took a number of hits during runs.
“You always look at the health of our quarterbacks first and foremost and see how they came out of the game and go from there,” Edsall said. “And put the guy on the field that gives us the best opportunity to win based on the health of our quarterbacks.”
But Edsall also said Brown’s play may have factored into his decision to put in Rowe, who led the Terps to victory against Virginia on Oct. 12 while Brown sat out with a concussion. Brown threw two interceptions that set up two Wake Forest touchdowns and also accounted for minus-35 yards rushing.
“There was a few things that went into that decision-making to make that change,” Edsall said.
Edsall still refused to tip his hand before Thursday’s weekly injury report. While the injuries hurt a team on the cusp of bowl eligibility, that isn’t anything new for Edsall, who has dealt with an unprecedented assortment of injuries during his time in College Park.
“It’s football,” Edsall said. “Injuries happen every day. Injuries are happening in the NFL games today. They all know the risk that they take when they play the game. Sometimes you get hurt. I hate for that to happen to anybody, but when that happens, you still got your job to do.”