According to a report from NFL Network, Detroit Lions safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is feared to have suffered a torn pectoral muscle during Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks, and his season is in danger of already being over two weeks into the year.
It’s a massive blow to the Lions defense, as Gardner-Johnson had become not only the emotional centerpiece of the secondary but a strong, instinctive playmaker on the team, as well. Even through two games, Gardner-Johnson made his impact both in the run game and as a pass defender.
Gardner-Johnson left the game briefly on Sunday, as trainers worked extensively with him on the sidelines in the arm/shoulder area. Miraculously, though, he only missed a total of two snaps against the Seahawks, playing the rest of the game through that injury.
If the news is true, the Lions will likely have to rely on veteran safety Tracy Walker to step up for the remainder of the season. Walker—the team’s 2018 third-round pick—was re-signed last offseason to be a leader and key player in the Lions secondary, but he lost his 2022 season to a devastating Achilles injury in Week 3.
After that, Walker worked tirelessly to rehab in time for training camp, only to see his starting role usurped by Gardner-Johnson when the Lions opted to move rookie Brian Branch into the starting lineup at nickel.
Now it appears Walker will have his chance to revitalize a career that was derailed by injury.