Jason Verrett was as surprised as anyone.
Most times, a player can feel a pop and know they've torn an ACL.
While Verrett was feeling pain, he thought it was the usual bumps and bruises of the season as he took the field against the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints. Learning he had a partially torn ACL was as disappointing as it was surprising as the Pro Bowl cornerback's season came to an end out of the blue.
The silver lining is that six weeks after being placed on the Reserve-Injured list, Verrett is feeling strong after diligently attacking his rehab. His spirits also remain high.
"I'm feeling good!" he said. "I'm just grinding. I'm feeling better and walking better. I'm rehabbing hard and spending as much time at the facility as possible to get back right. I'm up here every day. I'm here Monday through Saturday. I'm feeling better now, and I'm excited to start killing it in rehab. It was hard on me mentally more even, but I'm doing better."
Verrett and the Chargers have a plan when it comes to his rehab as he looks forward to rejoining his "brothers" during next year's offseason program.
"Right now it's a lot of getting the flection back in my leg," he explained. "The balance, strength in the quads and stabilization to feel comfortable. Once I get that back and I'm feeling comfortable, that's when I can start really attacking it."
Through it all, Verrett has received strong words of encouragement from the fans. While appreciative, in ways, it has also made it tougher as he is disappointed he can't be out there in front of them.
"It's humbling to see the love I still get. It gets me fired up, but at the same time, it's hard. It's hard to sit and have to watch from the sideline. That's the toughest part about it. I want to be out there putting on a show for them. But at the same time, I know I have got more seasons ahead of me. That's motivating me through the tough times."
The manner in which the injury snuck up on him was particularly hard for Verrett to wrap his head around.
"It hurt and was hard to (grasp)" he said. "Being honest with you, I was hurting after the Jacksonville game going into Indy. I tried fighting through it because I thought it was just soreness. Then after the Saints game, coming to the realization that maybe it was more and something could be wrong was frustrating just because I like to battle and be out there. The fact that I can't (be out there) was hard to sink in. I can't put more pressure on myself to perform than I already do. I like to compete. So I had to realize that God has a plan. I was so down on myself thinking 'what did I do? Was I not taking care of my body?' I was putting it all on myself and I had to come to the realization that things happen for a reason and it's all part of God's plan."
Restricted to being a spectator is clearly difficult for number 22 even though he is now in a good place mentally. Verrett can't help but think what might have been if he was able to be on the field.
"I tried to play video games, but it didn't (help much). My love for the game is still on a high. It's hard for me not to watch football. It's hard for me not to text the guys and see how they are doing. It's hard for me to not even show my face after practice because when you get something taken away from you that you love, it's hard to deal with. It's fuel for next year, but you deal with the what ifs. What if I didn't get hurt? What if I was still out there having fun with them. So that is part of it, but thank God I still have next year to come back and show what I can do."
While disappointed he is not out there, Verrett couldn't be prouder of the way his fellow DBs are playing. That is especially the case for Casey Hayward.
"It's exciting seeing the plays that Casey is making! He has stepped up for the defense. I'm excited for him and hopefully he gets the chance to go down to Orlando (for the Pro Bowl)."