%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:PNS104-093001; AUDIO:%)
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) _ Falcons running back Jamal Anderson was ruled out for the rest of the season Monday after spraining his left knee against the Arizona Cardinals.
It was the second time in three years that a knee injury brought an early end to Anderson’s season. He missed 14 games in 1999 with a torn ligament in his right knee.
Anderson was hurt Sunday during Atlanta’s 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the game’s opening series. The Falcons beat the Cardinals 34-14.
Anderson had an MRI exam on the knee Monday, and Falcons coach Dan Reeves then announced the 1998 All-Pro wouldn’t play again this season.
Anderson, eighth among active running backs with 5,330 yards, led the Falcons to the Super Bowl in the 1998 season, then went down with a right knee injury in the second game of the next year.
After Sunday’s game at Arizona, he said he hoped the new injury was not serious.
``This is supposed to be my good knee, so we’ll see,″ Anderson said. ``It doesn’t feel like what happened to me before. I’m hoping I just have a bad sprain or it’s hyperextended, maybe a partial tear.″
Anderson rushed for 184 yards in his first two games this season and caught a 94-yard touchdown pass from Chris Chandler in last week’s victory over the Carolina Panthers. He had four carries for 6 yards in his brief appearance Sunday.
The injury came on a 1-yard gain that was erased by an offside penalty.
Maurice Smith, playing in place of the injured Anderson on Sunday, ran for 80 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries as the Falcons improved to 2-1. Smith, who didn’t carry the ball in Atlanta’s first two games, also went 79 yards for a touchdown on a short pass.