There aren’t many better showmen in the NFL right now than defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson.
Unfortunately for the Detroit Lions, he hasn’t been on the field much during the 2023 season. But Gardner-Johnson appeared to hint on X (formerly Twitter) in his typical brash fashion about his return.
“Time is ticking,” Gardner-Johnson wrote with a purple devil smile emoji.
The social media post has received more than 300,000 views and 150 comments.
Detroit sports video editor and hype man Carl Collins inferred what a lot of Lions fans seemed to with the tweet — that the defensive back is planning to return to the field soon.
“This welcome back video is gonna be gonna be,” Collins wrote in a tweet along with emojis of fire and eyeballs.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson Promised to Return for Lions
The veteran defensive back landed on injured reserve following his Week 2 injury. But that didn’t discourage the 25-year-old from continuing to be vocal on social media.
“I’ll be back,” he posted as a caption to a video on Instagram.
“This (stuff) makes me tear up, for real,” Gardner-Johnson said in the Instagram video. “I don’t want to cry no more. I just want to get to it. You feel me? Look at this, I’m out there playing with one arm. They can’t stop me with this (stuff). When we (talking about) tapped out, I ain’t tapped out yet. I ain’t tap out yet, bro.”
Gardner-Johnson also revealed in the video that he played through the injury during Week 2.
The defensive back remains on injured reserve, but he’s spent the minimum four weeks on IR. The Lions could designate him to return and open a 21-day practice window for him at any time.
In September, Lions head coach Dan Campbell indicated there’s a chance Gardner-Johnson could return near the end of the season.
On October 13, Gardner-Johnson expressed in an Instagram story video that he is targeting the divisional round of the playoffs as his return date.
It’s unclear if his November 14 tweet is an indication that Gardner-Johnson is now aiming for an earlier return.
How Important is the Veteran DB’s Return for Detroit?
The Lions have managed to win without the veteran defensive back this season. But the team would likely love to get him back on the field.
That’s especially true after Week 10. Against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Lions allowed five straight touchdown drives to end the game. Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen tore up the Lions secondary with 11 receptions, 175 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.
Allen averaged 15.9 yards per catch and only had 3 targets that he didn’t catch.
The Lions are in the middle of the pack in terms of passing yards allowed (16th) and net yards allowed per pass attempt (17th). A Gardner-Johnson return could help the Lions improve upon both of those statistical categories.
Detroit is also tied for 26th in the NFL with 15 passing touchdowns yielded.
The Lions need to be better at placing pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That’s why they signed veteran defensive end Bruce Irvin on November 14.
But better coverage could obviously help slow down opposing passing attacks. It could lead to more sacks too.