An MRI test on Friday confirmed that Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, leaving the AFC North leaders without another star player on defense.
The All-Pro lineman got the leg bent under him while trying to make a tackle during the first half of a 22-20 overtime loss at Miami on Thursday night. The medical staff initially thought he'd torn the ligament, and the test a day later in Cincinnati confirmed it.
The Bengals (6-3) didn't have many injuries during their opening push that left them in control of the AFC North, leading second-place Baltimore (3-4). They've suffered several significant injuries in the last three weeks.
Top cornerback Leon Hall is out for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon. Safety Taylor Mays is gone with a dislocated shoulder. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga got a concussion and hurt his left knee during a 49-9 win over the Jets on Sunday and was on crutches during the week, out indefinitely.
Now, they've lost their top defensive lineman. Atkins led all NFL interior linemen in sacks with 12.5 last season and topped the Bengals with six so far this year.
Blackmon was suspended the first four games of this season for violating the policy. This is at least his third violation in about 18 months, and the Jaguars are acknowledging he has a problem.
"All of us who are a part of the Jaguars family care very deeply about Justin and his well-being," General Manager Dave Caldwell said in a statement. "That said, he must be held accountable and accept the consequences announced today by the NFL.
Blackmon's suspension begins immediately. He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement before the start of the 2014 season.
Jeter gets $12-million deal with Yankees
Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees worked out a $12-million, one-year deal that kept the captain from going on the open market, while Joe Nathan, Jose Veras, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kurt Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez were among the players who became free agents Friday.
Jeter, who turns 40 next June, was limited to 17 games this year after breaking his ankle in the 2012 playoffs. He spent four stints on the disabled list in the most frustrating season of his 19-year career. His deal had included a $9.5-million player option.
The Mets declined a $25-million option on Santana and will pay the two-time Cy Young Award winner a $5.5-million buyout. Santana, who turns 35 on March 13, went 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA while with the Mets, missing the 2011 and 2013 seasons because of shoulder injuries.
Lester, who gets $13 million, was the starting and winning pitcher twice during Boston's six-game World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. The 29-year-old was 15-8 with a 3.75 ERA in the regular season. He went 4-1 with a 1.65 ERA in the postseason, including victories in Games 1 and 5 of the Series.
Nathan, the Texas Rangers' All-Star closer, declined his half of a $9-million mutual option. The pitcher, who turns 39 this month, was 6-2 with a 1.39 ERA and 43 saves last season and wants a multiyear deal.
Detroit declined a $3.25 million option on Veras, who receives a $150,000 buyout.
Also, the Indians declined their $7.5-million club option on outfielder Jason Kubel. He was acquired from Arizona on Aug. 20.