The Detroit Lions are facing injury trouble on many fronts coming out of Week 2, and one particular situation will really test their defensive depth.
Safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson may be lost for the season with a torn pectoral. He joins a growing list of concerns for Detroit on both sides of the ball. Some of those situations will not be managed easily.
Losing Gardner-Johnson will be tough. He's renowned for his ability to play multiple roles on the back end. Finding a direct replacement is not really possible.
Yet, when the Lions added Gardner-Johnson in free agency he was seen as a luxury signing. Why? Detroit's safety depth was already strong with Tracy Walker in the mix. Walker has played in 64 career games with 37 starts. That kind of experience can't be overlooked.
Now, with Gardner-Johnson sidelined, Walker's presence becomes vital for Detroit. He has an opportunity to prove he belongs again, and deliver the type of play and leadership that will help the Lions keep things together on defense.
To that end, Walker might now be one of the most important players for the Lions this season.
Detroit Lions: Tracy Walker is ready to step up in C.J Gardner-Johnson's absence
After being bumped from the starting lineup following an offseason rehabbing an Achilles injury, Walker hasn't had a notable role through the first two games. But he has stayed ready, as expected.
As Justin Rogers of The Detroit News pointed out, Lions' defensive backs coach Brian Duker lauded Walker's professionalism upon not being a starter.
Like every team, the Lions will be challenged by injuries during a long season and in their case it has ramped up two games in. It has been easy to set Walker aside a bit with all the offseason changes to the secondary, but opportunity is now knocking for the team's leading tackler in 2021.