As concerned as head coach Dan Campbell is about the hype around the Detroit Lions right now, there are some things you just can't control--namely injuries. During Monday's practice, defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson was carted off the field after suffering what appeared to be a significant right leg injury.
The initial reports are dire.
The non-contact element has since been dismissed by reporters who are on site at Allen Park, as a blocker apparently touched him on the play in question. But the worst-case scenario, a torn ACL that would end Gardner-Johnson's season before it starts, is definitely possible.
Gardner-Johnson was one of the major free agent additions for the Lions this offseason, as they signed him to a one-year deal after he tied for the league lead with six interceptions for the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles last season. By all accounts he has been a immediate great fit in Detroit, on the practice field and as a veteran leader.
What would the Lions do without C.J. Gardner-Johnson?
Gardner-Johnson is (until there's firm injury news, we'll still say "is") lined up to be the Lions nickel/slot corner and a versatile piece in the secondary. If he is out, rookie Brian Branch would step into a similar hybrid role and Will Harris would be lined up for more snaps as a slot corner after primarily spending time in that role last year. A look outside the organization to add someone wouldn't be out of the question, if it comes to that.
An update on Gardner-Johnson will surely come when Campbell speaks to the media on Tuesday. It may simply be something like, "he's getting an MRI, and we'll know more when the results come back." Until there's a firm diagnosis, Lions fans will be left to hope a major injury was somehow avoided.
UPDATE, 12:10 ET: There is optimism Gardner-Johnson has avoided a major injury
Update No. 2, 1:12 PM ET: