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Knee injury takes down another Irons

Knee injuries have plagued the Irons family in recent years and the latest one will end the season of Atlanta Falcons cornerback David Irons.

The Dacula grad suffered a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, as well as a partial tear of the medial meniscus, while covering a second-half kickoff in Sunday's win over Tampa Bay. The injury is opposite the left knee's ACL that Irons first tore at Butler Community College (Kan.).

An MRI Monday afternoon confirmed the injury, which will be repaired with surgery when the swelling subsides.

"He'll be back. He'll be good," said David Irons Sr., the former Auburn All-SEC defensive back's father. "He came back from the same injury before. He ran a 4.4 (second 40-yard dash) for the scouts four months after he had (knee) surgery in Auburn.

"He's a hard worker. That's what they love about him in the Falcons camp."

Irons had his left knee repaired twice during college, the second time because the initial surgery didn't properly fix the damage.

With Antoine Harris lost for the season, Atlanta was counting on David Irons to step in as the gunner on their stellar punt-coverage unit.

In 2007 as a rookie cornerback, Irons led the Falcons in special teams tackles. But he was bothered by a hamstring in training camp this year and had to work his way back into regular duty.

Irons was his hard-to-contain best on kick coverage Sunday until his injury. He twice drew Tampa Bay penalties as Bucs were called for blocking in the back as he got by them.

He wasn't near the ball, however, when he was hurt on the second-half kickoff. After being examined on the sideline, he tried to show the Falcons medical staff that he was OK by doing a little running. But he was taken back to the locker room and a later MRI revealed the bad news.

Unfortunately, knee injuries are nothing new for the Irons family.

David's younger brother Kenny, a running back who also played at Dacula and Auburn, injured a knee in a preseason game with Cincinnati last year.

Kenny's injury was much more severe than David's current problem. Kenny, a second-round pick of the Bengals, had career-threatening tears of the ACL, MCL and meniscus.

The Bengals released the younger Irons, but the running back is working hard for a NFL return.

"(Kenny's) coming back," David Irons Sr. said. "Hopefully he'll be ready by January or February to sign with someone. He has a good chance at coming back. He's running real good straight ahead. We're just working on his lateral movement."

- Staff correspondent Guy Curtright contributed to this report.