Detroit Lions defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson had to be carted off the field during Monday’s training camp practice after suffering what appeared to be a knee injury to his right knee.
On the play, Gardner-Johnson was playing close to the line and was being blocked on a running play before he collapsed to the ground and started tapping his own right leg. He stayed on the ground for several minutes before he was carted off. He did not take a single step on his injured leg.
Gardner-Johnson was one of Detroit’s biggest free agent signings this offseason. The Lions gave him a one-year deal worth up to $8 million and he was primed to play a major part in the revamped secondary room as a nickel cornerback/safety hybrid.
“There’s a reason why we got C.J. because we believe they certainly upgrade us production wise, but also, they’re football guys,” coach Dan Campbell said. “They fit everything that we’re about – The way they go about their business. They’re veteran guys.”
If the injury turns out to be serious, the Lions have options at nickel cornerback. They could use veteran Will Harris at the nickel or rookie second-round pick Brian Branch.
At this point, though, it’s too early to speculate. Let’s just hope it’s just an injury scare for Gardner-Johnson and we get good news in Tuesday’s press conference with Campbell.
If any new information comes in, we’ll update this news post.
VERY GOOD UPDATE: Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reports that there is optimism Gardner-Johnson avoided a major injury. In fact, his source went as far as saying, “He’s fine.”
There is optimism that #Lions DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson's knee injury is not serious, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 24, 2023
More tests to come after CJGJ went down in practice today, but as one source put it: “He’s fine.”
Justin Rogers of the Detroit News confirmed that report via a team source.
UPDATE 2: Gardner-Johnson posted this via Instagram stories:
Gardner-Johnson on Instagram pic.twitter.com/EAN7Vzduwu— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) July 24, 2023
UPDATE 3: Per ESPN’s Field Yates, an MRI revealed “no strutural damage” to Gardner-Johnson’s knee and he’s day-to-day:
The MRI on Lions S C.J. Gardner-Johnson revealed no structural damage to his knee and he is considered day-to-day at this time, I’m told.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 24, 2023
Great news for a huge part of Detroit’s reshaped secondary after Gardner-Johnson left practice earlier today.