The Detroit Lions entered training camp as one of the healthiest teams in years. Only three players—quarterback Hendon Hooker, wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., and cornerback Emmanuel Moseley—missed the opening practice. However, things took a quick turn for the worse on Monday, just Detroit’s second practice of camp.
Both defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson and wide receiver Jameson Williams suffered injuries Monday morning and did not return to practice. Gardner-Johnson was carted off after being unable to put any pressure on his right leg, but we did get an optimistic update later in the day. Williams didn’t leave practice and kept his helmet on, but he did not return to action.
Coach Dan Campbell also offered small updates on Jones Jr. and Moseley, so let’s break down each injury.
About halfway through practice, Gardner-Johnson was playing close to the line as a box safety, and in an attempt to defend the run, he was sealed from the outside by a blocker before collapsing to the ground.
There were some reports that called this a non-contact injury, but the Lions clarified that to the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers:
Clarifying some of the information here. A team source who saw the video said there was some contact between Gardner-Johnson and a blocker.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) July 24, 2023
Later, even better news came from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, who provided the best possible update:
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.”
And that has now been confirmed by a team source:
Confirming @TomPelissero, a team source has informed me Gardner-Johnson's injury doesn't appear to be serious.— Justin Rogers (@Justin_Rogers) July 24, 2023
We’ll still wait and see whether Gardner-Johnson will miss some time in camp, but it appears he’s headed for a much better diagnosis than initially believed.
UPDATE: Per ESPN’s Field Yates, an MRI revealed “no structural damage” and Gardner-Johnson is “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.
On the very first play of 11-on-11 drills, Williams took a handoff and sprinted to the sidelines. When forced out of bounds, Williams grabbed the back of his leg and called for a trainer. He walked back to the team and had medical personnel try to help stretch his leg out.
Williams put his helmet on, and caught some passes while stationary, but he did not return to team or individual drills the rest of the day.
We certainly don’t want to speculate on the extent of the injury, but the fact that Williams stayed out there with the team is a positive sign.
Marvin Jones Jr.
Campbell told media on Monday that Jones Jr. is dealing with a back injury, but the team is just taking extra precaution with his situation. During practice, he continued to sprint with trainers at a healthy pace and get a lot of work in.
“It’s nothing major, but we knew we weren’t going to start him out at practice, so we just NFI (Non-Football Injury)’d him,” Campbell said. “But he’s improving and we’re not in any hurry right now to try to get him back.”
At 33 years old, there’s no need to rush Jones Jr. back on the field. That said, it doesn’t sound like he’s going to miss a lot more time.
On Sunday, Campbell revealed that Moseley was not at camp yet while he deals with his injury. He explained that he’ll spend more time on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Monday, he provided a little more context to Moseley’s timeline.
“Yeah, we’re hoping, there again, hopefully by the end of this week we’ll get him back in,” Campbell said.
To be clear, Campbell was saying they hope to have him back inside the building by the end of the week—not necessarily back on the field. It sounds like he’ll still have an extended absence.