As expected, the Detroit Lions placed safety Tracy Walker on injured reserve Tuesday afternoon. Walker suffered a torn Achilles in Sunday’s match against the Minnesota Vikings and revealed on Twitter that his 2022 season was over.
“I appreciate all the support from my fans and friends,” Walker said. “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.”
Monday, Lions coach Dan Campbell explained just how big of a loss Walker is to this defense.
“That’s a significant loss,” Campbell said. “Because multiple reasons, I mean Tracy’s been, since I walked in the door last year, he’s been all in. And he’s one of our team captains this year. Nobody’s put in more work than he has since the spring. And he’s one of the smartest players we have on defense, that’s huge and he’s productive. And so, you’re losing a big cog in the piece that helps you over there.”
JuJu Hughes stepped in for Walker in the final three quarters against the Vikings and is expected to continue in his place, although Campbell said the team was going to “look at everything” in terms of their options going forward.
One of those options may be 2021 third-round pick Ifeatu Melifonwu, who converted from cornerback to safety this offseason and has just recently been taken off the injury report after being inactive for the first three weeks of the season.
“He’s about ready,” Campbell said of Melifonwu. “He’s about ready, so he’ll be somebody that we consider this week as well.”
Detroit could also turn to rookie third-round pick Kerby Joseph. However, Joseph has only played on special teams thus far, as the team is taking his development slowly.
Linebacker Anthony Pittman has taken Walker’s spot on the 53-man roster, as Detroit signed him from the practice squad on Tuesday. For the first three games of the season, Pittman was elevated from the practice squad to the gameday roster, but NFL rules only allow three elevations per season. So in order for Pittman to play this upcoming Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, he had to be signed to the 53-man roster. Through three games, Pittman is third on the team with 66 special teams snaps, but he only played four snaps on defense.
The Lions also announced that they have signed wide receiver Josh Johnson to the practice squad, taking Pittman’s vacated spot. Johnson is an undrafted rookie out of Tulsa who was cut by the team back in mid-August. His addition is noteworthy because he plays the slot, as current Lions starting slot receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is dealing with an ankle injury that could cause him to miss time. Wide receiver Josh Reynolds also suffered an injury in Sunday’s game, but his status is currently unknown.