1. S Tracy Walker
There's no way to totally replace all that C.J. Gardner-Johnson brings to the table, and he was as advertised through two games before a torn pectoral sidelined him indefinitely (if not for the season). But the Lions' offseason remodel of their secondary left Walker, the team's leading tackler in 2021 and a former team captain, as a backup. It was a nice position to be in, and a rare one for the Lions.
Sunday will happen to be 364 days since Walker suffered his torn Achilles, in Week 3 last season against the Minnesota Vikings. His recovery went all the way through without a hitch, and the significance of the moment that's in front him a year removed from a major injury is not lost on him. It's safe to also say he's looking forward to the opportunity to step up.
"It’s going to be very emotional for me. It’s going to definitely spark some emotions and some feelings,” Walker said. “But at the end of the day, I still got to go out there and play ball. But I’m going to be so happy to fly around. Y’all are going to see 21 back out there. 21 gonna make a lot of plays.”
Walker has not been the kind of ballhawk Gardner-Johnson has shown himself to be (just three interceptions in 64 games). But he is a very good safety, with his leadership and overall performance as a seamless replacement for Gardner-Johnson.
In his full return from injury, and with Gardner-Johnson out, a lot of eyes will be on Walker Sunday. If the Lions put together a far better defensive showing than they had in Week 2, he will be at the center of it.