Unfortunately, it appears the Detroit Lions’ biggest fears about safety Tracy Walker have come true. According to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Walker “is believed to have suffered” a torn Achilles and will miss the rest of the 2022 season.
Walker suffered the non-contact injury in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings. While he was able to walk to the sideline with some help, he was eventually carted into the locker room.
After the game, coach Dan Campbell did not sound optimistic about Walker’s injury and even brought up the Achilles.
“We’ll know more in the morning,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t look real good, but, obviously, it’s the ankle area, possibly it could be the Achilles. We’ll see. We’ll know more tomorrow.”
This loss for the Lions cannot be understated. Walker was not only one of the better players on the Lions defense, but this year he was tasked with quarterbacking the defense, being the main communicator in the secondary, and leading the team as one of the few veterans. His absence was even felt on Sunday when a miscommunication in the secondary between his replacement JuJu Hughes and cornerback Mike Hughes caused the game-losing touchdown.
Going forward, it will be interesting to see how the Lions handle the safety position. Hughes has been relatively steady throughout camp and the preseason, but last year’s third-round pick Ifeatu Melifonwu is now healthy and could be given a shot. Detroit also has rookie third-round pick Kerby Joseph waiting in the wings, but the Lions have been taking him along slowly.
While Rapoport’s language is not quite definitive, this report certainly matches the concern the Lions had last night. Campbell is expected to speak with the media on Monday afternoon, where he’ll undoubtedly provide a definitive update.
UPDATE: Walker confirmed the torn Achilles diagnosis via Twitter:
I appreciate all the support from my fans and friends. It is true that I tore my Achilles and I’m done for the season but I’ll bounce back and be better then ever for the following years to come. TTIME will be back‼️— Tracy Walker #21 (@TracyWalkerIII) September 26, 2022