Nate Burleson said yesterday that he actually had tweaked his knee earlier in the game before going down with the injury that will cause him to miss the remainder of the season.
It dawned on me this morning that Burleson first hurt the knee when he was returning one of the early punts and went up and over the pile. I watched him get up limping, and followed him to the sidelines with my binoculars as he bent the knee several times to see if it was OK. I thought he was going to sit out a play or two, but when coach Mike Holmgren came over to ask him if he was OK, he went back in the game.
I have to wonder now if that was when he actually started to tear the ACL because if you look at the play where he went down, it didn't appear to me that he planted and popped the ligament. It appeared that his one foot got caught on the back of his other leg and he went down.
Which leads to the question: If Justin Forsett had not fumbled the punt return in the final preseason game, would Holmgren have allowed him to return punts in the opener, thus avoiding the injury to Burleson?
This was Holmgren's reasoning from the very beginning that he didn't want Burleson, his starting split end, back there returning punts, he didn't want him to get hurt. But when Forsett fumbled that punt against the Raiders, it clearly made Holmgren nervous putting a rookie back there in such a vulnerable position. His choices at that point were Burleson and Wallace, and he certainly didn't want to get Wallace hurt.
It also leads to this question: Does he roll the dice again and put Seneca back to field punts against the Niners, or does he risk going with the rookie -- assuming the rookie still is on the roster?