The headline of Day 2 of Detroit Lions training camp was obvious. Defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnon went down with what looked like a major right leg injury on a play where there was little contact. Immediate updates were positive though, and his status was labeled as day-to-day.
On Friday, Gardner-Johnson was seen on the practice field with a notable ramp up in his activity level off to the side of normal practice. On Saturday morning, the news got even better. He was back on the practice field, albeit (and as expected) in a limited capacity.
Five days after Gardner-Johnson was visibly upset and it was easy to envision a worst-case scenario, like a torn ACL or something else similarly significant/season-ending, being back practicing in any capacity is huge. By the same token, there's no need to rush anything right now as he ramps back up.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson comes right back in as a leader and tone setter for the Lions
Internal reviews from everywhere have pointed to how Gardner-Johnson has immediately stepped in as a leader and a tone-setter for the Lions' defense. Via MLive, left tackle Taylor Decker noted that presence.
"He (Gardner-Johnson) brings a lot of confidence to that DB room,”“I mean, that guy, he’s a talker, and that’s what DBs do. He’s gonna make those guys around him better and he’s a confident player. Like, we’ve seen that in walk-through, where it’s like, ‘Well, that’s not walkthrough tempo, but it is what it is.’ So, I hope he’s OK, because I think he can bring a lot of value. I know everybody knows that he can bring a lot of value to our team."- Taylor Decker, via MLive
Even in the limited capacity he was practicing on Saturday, Gardner-Johnson was certainly back in that vocal leadership role without hesitation.
The Lions will have joint practices with the New York Giants before the Aug. 11 preseason opener. Gardner-Johnson is on track to be ready to go for those, which it didn't feel like he would be at this time on Monday.