Lions safety Tracy Walker was quickly ruled out after leaving Sunday’s game against the Vikings, and his injury could be severe.
In the first half of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker left with what was initally deemed an ankle injury. Reports from on-site said he was carted to the locker room, and he was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game.
Being down one of their best defensive players and a team captain for any amount of time is not going to be good for the Lions. But the postgame sentiment from head coach Dan Campbell on Walker was decidedly on the worst end of not good.
Campbell and the Lions medical staff has plenty of experience with Achilles’ tears. Cornerback Jeff Okudah had one in Week 1 last year, followed by defensive end Romeo Okwara in Week 4. Okwara is not back yet, with an uncertain return date, and he’ll miss at least one more game on IR as the one-year mark since his injury approaches.
How will the Lions replace Tracy Walker?
Assuming Walker indeed has a torn Achilles and his 2022 season is over, how will the Lions replace him?
JuJu Hughes primarily stepped in in place of Walker on Sunday, finishing the game with eight tackles. Rookie safety Kerby Joseph also got some run–the first defensive snaps of his career–and he had three tackles. Second-year man Ifeatu Melifonwu was inactive on Sunday, but he is healthy after missing a lot of time with an injury and now he’ll probably be needed.
Getting down to it, there’s really no replacing Walker on the Detroit defense. Any possible outside free agent signing at this point is a player who is available right now for a reason. That said, the Lions’ front office could already be looking at other team’s practice squads for an experienced option they could sign away.
Otherwise, again assuming what appears likely, it’ll be an internal effort to fill Walker’s snaps over the final 14 games of the season.