The Detroit Lions made a splash in the offseason when the team signed safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson to a one-year deal after the defensive back made it to the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Gardner-Johnson was expected to be a key part in helping the team’s defense come out from being among the league’s worst over the last four years. In 2022, the Lions were 28th in points allowed and 32nd in yards allowed.
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All optimism came to a screeching halt on Monday.
Gardner-Johnson was carted off the field at practice with an apparent noncontact injury to his right leg, according to multiple reports. He suffered the injury during a team drill and could not put any pressure on his leg as he was helped off the field, ESPN reported.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff was among those who checked on Gardner-Johnson in the middle of practice.
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Gardner-Johnson spent only one season with the Eagles. He had a career-high six interceptions, which was tied for the league lead in 2022. He also put together 67 tackles and a sack as Philadelphia made it to Super Bowl LVII and lost by three points to the Kansas City Chiefs.
He spent his first four seasons with the New Orleans Saints. In 43 games with the Saints, he had five interceptions with 161 total tackles and a fumble recovery.
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Gardner-Johnson was slotted in the nickelback position. Rookie Brian Branch, Chase Lucas and Khalil Dorsey could all vie for the position should Gardner-Johnson be lost for a significant period of time.