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Discussion: Who will step up as a leader in C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s absence?

The Detroit Lions aren’t just losing a key player but a key leader, too.

Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Photo by Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are losing one heck of a football player in C.J. Gardner-Johnson as he faces a suspected torn pectoral muscle that landed him on injured reserve and could keep him out the rest of the season. Beyond what he does on the field, they’re losing arguably the most vocal leader of their defense, perhaps even the whole team.

Gardner-Johnson came to Detroit on a mission and hit the ground running. He won over this team and this city with his charisma and energy, evidenced by the blue ski-mask movement he sparked ahead of the Lions’ home opener in Week 2. With Gardner-Johnson set to miss most (if not all) of the season, there’s a huge void on the Lions defense and someone will need to step up in his place.

Question of the day: Who will step up as a leader in C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s absence?

There are a few players who come to mind, but none really hit the nail on the head. Alex Anzalone is a clear commander of the defense, but he’s less vocal and has maintained his role amid CJGJ’s emergence. Aidan Hutchinson is growing but doesn’t have the same energy that CJGJ brings to the table. Perhaps another newcomer like Emmanuel Moseley or Cameron Sutton? But we haven’t seen enough of them on or off the field to embrace them in the same way.

My answer: The Lions need another playmaker with a vibrant personality and unmatched energy. I think I know someone who fits that bill. MR. SACKCHAZER himself, the man who’s still farting, ZUPER BOWL KERB — or as you probably know him, Kerby Joseph.

Joseph hasn’t been flashy to start the season, but he’s a player so skilled that it’s a matter of when, not if, he starts making flash plays again. With Gardner-Johnson gone, it’s the perfect time for the sophomore safety to put his roots down as a leader of the secondary and the entire defense. He clearly isn’t afraid to use his voice and show some personality, and now is his opportunity to use it when the Lions need it most.

Of course, that starts with a high level of play. With Tracy Walker coming back into the fold, Joseph remains a part of one of the most talented safety pairings in the league and will have the opportunity to be a game-changer.

Who do the Lions need to step up most in Gardner-Johnson’s absence? Will it be Joseph? Maybe a youngster like Brian Branch? A veteran like Walker? A free agent addition? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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