As the Detroit Lions completed a comeback win over the Chicago Bears in Week 11, defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson seemed to tease a return to action in a few weeks via a social media video. He has of course been sidelined since suffering a torn pectoral in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, with the remote idea he could play again this season.
Gardner-Johnson has been consistent with the idea he will make a quick comeback from his injury. Not that an injured player would put anything other than optimism out there.
When asked about what Gardner-Johnson posted on social media in the days after the game against the Bears, head coach Dan Campbell was skeptical he would play anytime soon.
"I don’t foresee that, but yet man, I’m not going to (rule it out). Never say never. I’m not going to do that. He may have mutant genes, he’s like Wolverine, there’s no telling. But believe me, that would be unbelievable, but I just, I think it’ll be hard but you never know."
C.J. Gardner-Johnson stirs things up again by teasing exact return date
On Thursday morning, Gardner-Johnson posted a brief message on Instagram.
As noted, Wednesday Dec. 20 would be the start of the practice week before the Lions play the Minnesota Vikings in Week 16. It would be three months removed from the injury and surgery for Gardner-Johnson, though at that time Campbell did note it was clean tear and that would be helpful to a fast recovery.
With how the Lions have struggled against the pass, and struggled to generate takeaways, getting Gardner-Johnson back would be huge. But the team also slow-plays player rehab. As much as he wants to play, and will think he can, it will come down to doctors clearing him and coaches being comfortable putting him out there. If he's held back from playing, it will be interesting to see what he puts out there publicly.
There can be optimism that Gardner-Johnson will be on the practice field Dec. 20, and that's truly all he teased on Thursday morning. Going from that to playing in games is another story though, so skepticism and doubt about his full return this season remains until further notice.