FLOWERY BRANCH - On a day when Michael Vick announced a guilty plea to dogfighting charges, the Atlanta Falcons were dealing with the loss of another quarterback.
Local favorite D.J. Shockley, who was battling for the No. 2 spot behind Vick replacement Joey Harrington, confirmed Monday that he will likely undergo surgery next week for a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Shockley also sustained a slight tear of the medial collateral ligament and a bone bruise when he went down awkwardly in last Friday's preseason game at Buffalo.
'It's very disappointing, especially when you get into a situation where you feel like you're doing good, going out there and doing everything possible to help the team. Things were going well,' he said after hobbling into the media room on crutches.
Shockley was hurt late in the game when he attempted to cut to the inside on a scramble. His right foot slipped as he planted it at the Buffalo 15, causing his left leg to twist awkwardly before he was tackled by linebacker Josh Stamer.
'I had made that cut probably 40 or 50 times in my life and never thought anything of it,' Shockley said. 'At that particular moment, I felt it as soon as I made the cut. Once I hit the ground, I knew I wasn't getting up. I knew the situation was going to be worse than I ever could have imagined.'
Shockley was playing well after a lackluster performance in the preseason opener against the New York Jets. He was 4-of-5 for 46 yards passing and rushed for 18 yards on three carries before the injury.
Now, his season is over, leaving the Falcons with only two established quarterbacks. Harrington inherited the starting job when Vick was indicted on federal dogfighting charges, while Chris Redman was contending with Shockley for the No. 2 job.
Redman hasn't played in a game since 2003, making it certain that Atlanta will pursue another veteran player at the most prominent position on the field. Casey Bramlett, whose pro experience is limited to now-defunct NFL Europa, is the only other QB on the roster.
'The personnel department is trying to evaluate what might come available and what might not become available,' coach Bobby Petrino said. 'There's really nothing out there right now to make any moves.'
Shockley was one of the Falcons' most popular players, even though he was only a seventh-round pick in 2006 and didn't play at all during his rookie season. He grew up in suburban Atlanta and stuck it out at Georgia, even though he had to spend three years backing up David Greene.
When Shockley finally got his chance to start, he had a brilliant senior season and led the Bulldogs to their second SEC title in four years.
'That's part of this game that (stinks),' Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler said. 'He's a young guy who is well loved by the whole Georgia community. He comes to work every single day, does everything right, and made great progress from the first preseason game to the second. Then he has an injury.'