C.J. Gardner-Johnson only missed a couple snaps of the Lions Week 2 loss to the Seahawks, but it was reported Monday night that he had suffered a torn pectoral and could miss the rest of the season. He was put on IR, as expected, on Tuesday.
Gardner-Johnson's presence will obviously be missed, but the Lions have the capable Tracy Walker ready to step in. So it could certainly be a lot worse when it comes to having to replace who defensive backs coach Brian Duker called the "battery for the whole defense", but Gardner-Johnson returning before the season is over would be a bonus more than an expectation.
However, head coach Dan Campbell was optimistic when he spoke to the media on Wednesday.
"The reports that we’ve gotten back on it is that it was a very clean injury and that’s normally good for surgery, recovery, all of those things,” Campbell said. “So I certainly think there’s a chance that we get him back.”
C.J. Gardner-Johnson has a chance to return before the season is over
A "clean" injury without other complications is always preferable to the alternative, and it sounds like Gardner-Johnson has a straight-forward torn pectoral that will make the upcoming surgery and recovery as easy as it possibly can be.
But for however long Gardner-Johnson is out, it's "next man up"-Walker. Campbell talked about the former team captain.
"Having a guy like Tracy, who’s got time on task, somebody we’ve got a lot of faith in, trust in, that alleviates a lot of pressure and stress for us because we know he’s game ready, he’s been in it,” Campbell said. “He hasn’t batted one eye at it. He just goes to work and he does anything we ask him to do.”
Campbell also said there's a chance second-year edge rusher James Houston, who is expected to miss at least 6-8 weeks with a fractured ankle, could return before the season is over. Not definite or guaranteed, just like Gardner-Johnson, but a chance nonetheless.