The Detroit Lions announced that they have placed wide receiver DJ Chark and defensive back Bobby Price on injured reserve and they will miss, at a minimum, the next four weeks of the regular season.
In 2021, Chark fractured his ankle, which required surgery and he missed the final 14 games of the Jaguars season. In 2022, now healthy and a free agent, Chark was targeted by the Lions as a player who could fill the WR-X role, something this regime has been searching for since they took over a year and a half ago.
Through training camp, Chark looked like a force on offense and provided the Lions with a real deep threat that defenses had to account for. But in Week 3, Chark re-injured the same ankle he has surgically repaired, and despite things looking optimistic at times, he has not been able to play since.
In Week 4, he looked on track to play, but was a Saturday downgrade and was ruled out. In Week 5, things once again looked on track for him to return, but a Friday downgrade knocked him out again. The team was optimistic Chark would be able to return after their bye in Week 6, but his ankle did not improve in Week 7 and he started using a walking boot this week in an attempt to help the recovery process.
“We just taking it day by day,” Chark told the media on Thursday. “But this (boot) kinda helps with the comfort level. It’s not mandatory at all. But I figure if we going to accelerate this process by any means, take any precautions that I can so I can get back out there. Like I said, sooner than rather than later.”
The good news that Chark said that surgery is not being considered right now.
“Nah, nah, nah,” Chark said. “Thank god.”
In the end, the Lions determined that it would be best for Chark to get off the rollercoaster recovery process and get a month's worth of rest and he was placed on injured reserve.
With rookie Jameson Williams also not yet ready to begin practicing—he remains on the reserve/NFI list—the team is expected to turn to Josh Reynolds (knee, questionable) as the WR-X, keeping Amon-Ra St. Brown (ankle, no injury designation) in the slot, with a combination of Kalif Raymond and Tom Kennedy at the WR-Z spot.
Price’s absence will be felt most on special teams where he is a four phase starter, including holding one of the Lions gunner roles. On defense, Price was the Lions fourth option on the outside at corner but Jerry Jacobs being activated from the PUP list will help soften the loss in both roles.
Per the return from injured reserves rules, Chark and Price must now miss, at a minimum, the next four games and they will be eligible to return to the field in Week 11 when the team takes on the New York Giants.