Minneapolis — Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker exited in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings with a left leg injury. And while the Lions didn’t have an immediate update after the 28-24 loss, coach Dan Campbell didn’t sound optimistic.
“We don’t know entirely,” Campbell said. “We’ll know more in the morning. It doesn’t look real good, but it’s obviously the ankle area, possibly could be the Achilles. We’ll see.”
On a second-and-1 snap, Walker took three steps backward before reversing course on a run play. But on the safety’s first step coming forward, he came up hobbling with a non-contact injury. After being helped off the field by the team’s training staff, he was eventually carted to the locker room for further evaluation. He was ruled out a short time later with the injury.
Walker, who missed two days of practice this week to attend to the birth of his son, is coming off a season where he recorded a career-high 108 tackles. A free agent in the offseason, he re-signed with the Lions on a three-year, $25 million deal.
After Walker’s exit, he was replaced in the lineup by JuJu Hughes. Undrafted out of Fresno State in 2020, Hughes was claimed off waivers from the Rams in January.
Prior to Sunday’s game, Hughes had logged just 54 defensive snaps. He’s potentially now in line to be the team’s starter going forward if Walker’s injury ends up being a long-term or season-ending issue.
“This is what I’ve prepared for, this is what I’m here for, this is the dream I’ve always wanted,” Hughes said about the opportunity. “God, you hate to see someone like (Walker) go down, especially a leader of your team, a leader of our secondary, but, you know, it’s next man up in our room. That’s me, I’ve gotta step up and be ready to fill that role and play to my abilities.”