Detroit Lions safety C.J. Gardner Johnson has a message to fans — I’ll be back.
After suffering what is feared to be a season-ending pectoral tear, Gardner-Johnson took to Instagram this week to share an emotional message with fans and a promise to return. The injury is a major blow to the Lions, as Gardner-Johnson was one of the biggest offseason additions to the defense and quickly assumed a leadership role in Detroit.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson: ‘They Can’t Stop Me’
In the video posted on September 22, Gardner-Johnson revealed that he shed some tears after learning about the injury but was ready to move on and look ahead.
“This (stuff) makes me tear up, for real,” Gardner-Johnson said. “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 suffered the injury in the team’s 37-31 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks on September 17, though didn’t know the severity until the following day. The veteran defensive back missed some time on the opening drive as the team’s medical staff examined his arm, but he returned and played the remainder of the game.
“I played the whole game, bro, with a torn arm,” Gardner-Johnson said in the Instagram video. “You hope people see that. You know what I’m saying? I’ve got kids to feed, bro.”
Gardner-Johnson was able to make a big impact on the field through the first two games of the season, making 13 total tackles as the Lions got off to a 1-1 start.
Chance of Late Return for Lions Defensive Back
Though Gardner-Johnson’s rehab is expected to take months rather than weeks, there is some hope that it may not be season-ending, as initially feared. Lions head coach Dan Campbell told reporters this week that the injury was as “clean” as possible, which could lead to a return late this season.
“Don’t quite know, but I know that the reports that we’ve gotten back on it is that it was a very clean injury and that’s normally good for surgery, recovery, all of those things, so I certainly think there’s a chance that we get him back,” Campbell said, via Pro Football Talk.
Campbell also expressed confidence that Gardner-Johnson would put in the necessary work to return, saying he would still have an impact on the Lions defense through his leadership.
“Losing a guy like C.J. is going to hurt anytime,” Campbell said. “He’s an impactful player and his energy is infectious. And look, I hate it, I hate it for him. I hate it for him. I hate it for us. But man, this train doesn’t stop, and so with that, man, I think him being around has definitely made guys better, those around him better.”
The Lions have suffered a number of other injuries on defense, with defensive lineman Josh Paschal being placed on injured reserve prior to last week’s game and edge rusher James Houston headed to IR as well with a broken ankle.