Injuries aren’t uncommon in the NFL. Actually, they’re inevitable. That doesn’t mean that they’re enjoyable when we see them. That most certainly doesn’t mean that all are equal in their significance. There’s a distinct difference in being knocked out of the lineup for a few weeks as is the case with Dallas Goedert and suffering a season-ender (think Derek Barnett). There’s also a difference in losing a backup at a position of strength and losing a starter at a position where a team seemingly lacks depth. Make no mistake about it. The Philadelphia Eagles want C.J. Gardner-Johnson back in the lineup sooner rather than later.
The NFL’s leader in interceptions, C.J. left Week 12’s game versus the Green Bay Packers in obvious pain, so much so that he had to be helped off of the field with the assistance of a medical cart. The initial theory was he had a rib injury. The hope was they weren’t broken.
Almost two days later, we learned the extent, a lacerated kidney. That leads to the obvious question.
When will C.J. Gardner-Johnson be back in the Eagles lineup and playing?
As mentioned earlier, injuries seem more significant when you lose a starter at a position of weakness. We had asked questions about Philly’s safety position up until the Birds traded for Gardner-Johnson shortly before the regular season. His ability to stabilize things has brought some confidence in the unit as a whole. Still, without him in the lineup, the Eagles are left with a rotation that features Marcus Epps, Andre Chachere, K’Von Wallace, and Reed Blankenship. That doesn’t necessarily instill confidence.
As Adam Caplan of Inside The Birds noted, the timetable for his return would seem shorter had it not been for the fact that he indeed sustained some injury to the rib area. On Wednesday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke with the media, and he stated that he wouldn’t put a timetable on his return. That means, as of now, no one can make definite determinations on how long he’ll be out.
There is a silver lining though. He doesn’t need surgery, nor will he be placed on injured reserve. It’s expected that he’ll return to the lineup this season. That means he should be present for a playoff run, and hopefully a game in February. That doesn’t tell us much more than we knew 24 hours ago, but it does give us some perspective.
In the meantime, Nick Sirianni is happy about the guys he has in the defensive backs meeting room. That includes these young safeties.
"We like the room. We like the guys on the practice squad… We’re always doing anything we can do to help make the team to be successful, but I really love that room. I have a lot of confidence in that room."
Reed Blankenship had a nice training camp and preseason, and he looked good versus the Green Bay Packers. Let’s hope that he continues to shine in C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s absence.
One more thing worth mentioning: Philadelphia released their Wednesday injury report, and it houses three names beside C.J.’s: linebacker Patrick Johnson (ankle), Zach Pascal (groin), and DeVonta Smith (groin).
Bookmark this one. We’ll provide any updates on C.J. below should they occur.