FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Patriots safety Rodney Harrison is determined to return from a season-ending knee injury and play for New England next year, his agent said Tuesday.

“If anybody can do it, Rodney Harrison can do it,” Steve Feldman said. “He’s optimistic. … This is just another challenge.”

The Patriots placed Harrison on injured reserve Tuesday and confirmed that he will miss the remainder of the season with a left knee injury.

Feldman said his client tore his anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and posterior cruciate ligament in the first quarter of New England’s 23-20 win over Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Harrison, 32, is expected to undergo surgery in four to six weeks, once the swelling in his knee subsides, Feldman said.

“After the surgery, we’ll have a better idea (of his recovery period),” Feldman said.

Harrison has started every game since signing a free agent contract with New England in 2003 after being released by San Diego after nine years with the Chargers. He was injured when Pittsburgh wide receiver Cedrick Wilson hit his legs after being bumped by a New England player.

He was the Patriots leading tackler the last two seasons and has 1,053 tackles, 27.5 sacks, 31 interceptions and 12 forced fumbles in 12 NFL seasons. He is the NFL’s career leader in sacks by a defensive back.

Harrison also has six interceptions in six playoff games with New England, including two in last season’s 24-21 Super Bowl win over Philadelphia.

The Patriots secondary was depleted before Harrison went down. Three injured defensive backs – cornerbacks Tyrone Poole and Randall Gay and safety James Sanders – did not play against the Steelers.

Also Tuesday, the Patriots waived linebacker Wesly Mallard. That leaves two openings on the team’s 53-player roster. Mallard, 26, was signed by the Patriots as a free agent in April and played in the first two games, recording three special teams tackles. Mallard spent his first three seasons with the New York Giants.

AP-ES-09-27-05 1747EDT