If you’ve forgotten about Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson, no one would blame you. The 2018 second-round pick was placed on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7. With the Lions now officially eliminated from playoff contention, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Lions shut him down for the rest of the season.
But that doesn’t appear to be the Lions’ plan for Johnson. Head coach Matt Patricia announced on Wednesday that Johnson will return to practice this week.
It has been six weeks since the Lions placed Johnson on IR, which means he’s eligible to return to practice, but he still cannot play for another two weeks. He’s first eligible to play in Week 16 against the Denver Broncos.
When asked how important these final games for Johnson could be, considering his injury-riddled career thus far, Patricia noted that playing time is important regardless of scenario.
“I think it’s always important to play football and practice football and do everything you can as much as possible, especially if you’re a young player, especially if you’re a player that’s missed some time,” Patricia said. “It’s great to get back out there and kind of have that opportunity to get back to work.”
Since Johnson has been placed on IR, the Lions have rotated backs over the past two months. However, they seemed to have settled on former Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough, who has rushed for 236 yards and 4.5 yards per carry in the past three games.
Earlier this season, the Lions returned rookie defensive end Austin Bryant from injured reserve. Per NFL rules, teams are allowed to return two players from IR, so it appears Johnson will be their second and final player to receive that designation.
Additionally, the Lions announced a change to the practice squad. Tight end Cole Herdman was signed to the 10-man team, while linebacker Anthony Pittman was released.