The Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell announced on Wednesday that the team is officially returning wide receiver DJ Chark to practice and starting his 21-day evaluation clock.
“We’re going to let him run around today, we’ll start his clock,” Campbell said. “Let him do some individual work today and see how he feels.”
Over the next 21 days, the Lions will have an opportunity to take a look at how Chark’s surgically prepared ankle will hold up during practices. Once they feel like he is ready to return to game action, they can activate him from injured reserve (which can happen at any time), placing him on the 53-man roster, and thus making him eligible to play a game.
Typically, the Lions take their time with this process, allowing players two to three weeks to reacclimate. But Chark had previously told Dave Birkett of the Free press that he was only expecting to be out the minimum amount of time, suggesting he could return before the typical timeline.
While the Lions could certainly use his presence on the field, coaches have made it clear that they won’t rush a player back before they are ready. So, while Chark may intend on finding the field soon, the medical staff will play a factor in determining when that is.
Chark’s injury is to the same ankle he had surgically repaired during his time in Jacksonville in 2021. He was medically cleared in the offseason, but he re-aggravated the injury in Week 3 against the Minnesota Vikings. Despite multiple weeks of improving, only to see a late-week setback, the Lions opted to place him on injured reserve and allow him a full four weeks of healing before returning to practice.
Campbell also gave an update on rookie wide receiver Jameson Williams, suggesting the team is tentatively considering starting his 21-day evaluation clock, sometime after Thanksgiving—“maybe the Jacksonville week (Week 13), or the week after.”