Mike Triplett | ESPN.com
METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro suffered a fractured ankle during the team’s 17-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday and will have surgery Tuesday, according to coach Sean Payton.
The team has not announced a roster move yet, but the injury will certainly end Vaccaro’s standout rookie season.
Vaccaro’s left ankle was rolled up and bent awkwardly in a pile during the first quarter, and an air cast was placed on the leg before he was carted off the field.
Payton compared the injury to the one suffered by Saints offensive tackle Bryce Harris last year. Harris was placed on injured reserve last season but returned to the field in time for summer practices.
“It’s a fracture in the ankle. It’s fairly clean,” said Payton, who said the surgery will be formed by Charlotte-based surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson, who is known as one of the best foot and ankle specialists in the country.
Vaccaro was considered by many analysts to be among the NFL’s top rookies this year. The first-round draft pick from Texas played almost every snap for the Saints in a versatile role — often matching up against top slot receivers. Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan recently called him the best overall safety in the league.
Vaccaro had 79 tackles this year with one sack, one interception and one forced fumble.
He’ll certainly be missed by the Saints, though the team has experienced depth at the safety position as veteran and former Pro Bowler Roman Harper will likely replace Vaccaro in the starting lineup.
- Covered Saints for eight years at New Orleans Times-Picayune
- Previously covered LSU football, San Francisco 49ers
- Iowa native and University of Iowa graduate