February 25, 2024


The Detroit Lions are getting one of their key secondary pieces back after safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson was medically cleared to join his teammates. 

Head coach Dan Campbell told reporters Gardner-Johnson’s 21-day window to return could start as soon as next week. 

Gardner-Johnson has been sidelined since Week 2 with a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in an overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He was promptly placed on injured reserve with the expectation he could miss the rest of the season. 

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C.J. Gardner-Johnson during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs

C.J. Gardner-Johnson of the Detroit Lions poses for a photo prior to a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium Sept. 7, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

However, Gardner-Johnson has been hinting at a return, posting to social media Wednesday with a clip from “The Simpsons” in which a doctor uses defibrillation paddles and says, “Clear!”

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“He’s one of the X-Men. He’s got these mutant genes because he has healed extremely quickly, and he’s gotten his strength back,” Campbell said, via ESPN. “It is secure. So, yeah, he’s going to be ready to go here pretty soon.”

After losing two of their last three games, the Lions can use help on defense. They’ve given up 25 or more points in five straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL. 

CJ Gardner-Johnson vs Chiefs

Detroit Lions safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sept. 7, 2023, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Gardner-Johnson played a crucial role in the Lions’ hot start to the season that began with an upset victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. He had 13 total tackles with two passes defended over the first two games of the year, both of which he started. 

He’s a leader on and off the field, too, rallying his defensive brothers around him like he did on a star-studded Philadelphia Eagles defense in 2022 when he helped them to a Super Bowl appearance. 

Campbell knows the impact Gardner-Johnson can make on his team, which is why the Lions hope he can be available soon.

“It’s good news, and certainly the plan will be, let’s get him going ASAP to get him practicing, get his legs back under him, get him in shape … football shape,” Campbell explained. “But that’s great news. That’s a credit to him, too, now. He’s been working.”

C.J. Gardner-Johnson on field

Detroit Lions safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson (2) gestures to the crowd to get loud before a play during the fourth quarter of a game against the Seattle Seahawks Sept. 17, 2023, at Ford Field in Detroit.  (Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Gardner-Johnson is in his fifth NFL season, his first with the 9-4 Lions after just one year in Philly. His played his first three seasons with the New Orleans Saints, the team that drafted him in the fourth round in 2019.



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