The injuries C.J. Gardner-Johnson and James Houston suffered in Week 2 will lead to two key defenders moving off the Lions’ roster. The team placed the veteran safety and young defensive end on IR on Tuesday.
Initially reported as an ankle ailment, Houston is actually dealing with a fibula injury, Dan Campbell said, via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. Additionally, Halapoulivaati Vaitai may be facing a multiweek absence. Campbell said the team’s right guard starter could be out for a bit, though he added it does not look like an IR move will be necessary, via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers. Gardner-Johnson may be on track to miss the rest of the season. The fifth-year DB is feared to have suffered a torn pectoral muscle. With Houston suffering a fracture, he may also miss the rest of the year.
Despite the Eagles expressing interest in re-signing Gardner-Johnson this offseason, he ended up with the Lions on a surprising deal. Gardner-Johnson, who denied a report of the Eagles submitting a multiyear offer, signed a one-year, $6.5M deal. While players have landed big-ticket contracts despite season-ending injuries in the recent past — Allen Robinson, Bud Dupree and Dak Prescott are three of note — Gardner-Johnson was aiming to use this season as a trampoline to a more lucrative pact. A surgery taking place would wound those hopes. The Lions have exclusive negotiating rights with CJGJ until March of next year.
Houston’s injury will blunt some surprising early-career momentum. Houston went from sixth-round pick to Detroit’s practice squad, debuting on Thanksgiving Day. The Jackson State product managed to rack up eight sacks after that late start. He started one game for the Lions this season.
While it is not known if Gardner-Johnson and Houston are both done for the season, it obviously represents good news Vaitai avoided a serious injury. A back issue sidelined Vaitai throughout last season, leading to a pay cut. The former Eagles draftee also considered retirement this offseason. The Lions have Graham Glasgow back in place as insurance, and although Vaitai beat out the returning blocker for the RG post, Glasgow has been a starter for most of his career. While the Broncos released Glasgow to pick up cap space in March, he started 33 games for the team — at guard and center — from 2020-22. Glasgow, 30, has started 91 career contests.