The Detroit Lions made a splash in the offseason when the team signed safety CJ Gardner-Johnson to a one-year deal after the defensive back reached the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Gardner-Johnson was expected to be a key part in helping the team’s defense come out of being among the worst in the league in the last four years. In 2022, the Lions ranked 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 carried off the field in practice with an apparent non-contact injury to his right leg, according to multiple reports. He suffered the injury during a team exercise and was unable to apply pressure to 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 just one season with the Eagles. He had a career-high six interceptions for him, which was tied for the league lead in 2022. He also racked up 67 tackles and one sack as Philadelphia reached 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 one fumble recovery.
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Gardner-Johnson was placed in the nickel position. Rookie Brian Branch, Chase Lucas and Khalil Dorsey could all compete for the job if Gardner-Johnson is missing for any significant period of time.