The Detroit Lions have not gotten the on-field impact they hoped to get from C.J. Gardner-Johnson this season after he tied for the league lead with six interceptions last season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Of course he has been sidelined since suffering a torn pectoral against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2, with his regular teases of a return in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, Gardner-Johnson posted to Instagram to tease that he has been medically cleared.
As head coach Dan Campbell met with the media on Thursday, a question about Gardner-Johnson in light of that post was automatic.
"I got the same report, which is good news," Campbell said Thursday. "It's great news. He is, so it's back to what we said. He's one of the X-Men, he's got these mutant genes because he has healed extremely quickly. It is, he has gotten the strength back, it is secure. So yeah, he's gonna be ready to go here pretty soon."
After a bit of levity about Gardner-Johnson possibly playing against the Broncos on Saturday night, Campbell promised that won't be happening.
Detroit Lions: When will C.J. Gardner-Johnson play?
The Lions seem likely to open Gardner-Johnson's practice window next week, which makes his tease of a Dec. 20 return back in late-November look prophetic (or just well-informed). At that point they'll have 21 days to put him on the active roster.
Of course 21 days is the maximum time to put Gardner-Johnson on the active roster. He could be activated at any point after returning to practice, but we know the Lions don't rush things when it comes to ramping players up coming off injuries. So it's not surprising that Campbell is not setting Gardner-Johnson's return in stone.
"Yeah, Brad and I need to talk about it, but it's good news. And certainly, the plan will be, let's get him going ASAP, That would be the plan. Get him practicing, get his legs back under him, get him in shape, football shape."
In terms of when Gardner-Johnson will play, Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings is possible as long as his practice window is opened next week. More likely, Week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys or the second game against the Vikings in Week 18 will when his return to action happens.