Detroit Lions C.J. Gardiner-Johnson  (85) works out on the sidelines during training camp Tuesday, July 25, 2023.

Lions’ C.J. Gardner-Johnson back at practice after knee scare

Cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson was back in pads with his Detroit Lions teammates on Saturday, five days after he was carted off the field with what originally was feared to be a serious knee injury.

At the time of the non-contact injury to his right knee, Gardner-Johnson was visibly upset and comforted by teammates. On Saturday, he was the confident defensive leader the Lions hoped they were getting when they signed him to a one-year deal worth up to $8 million with incentives in March.

Gardner-Johnson told reporters after practice in Allen Park, Mich., that it’s important for him to be on the field.

“I’m contagious. I’m like the flu. I’m like the flu,” he said, per MLive.com. “It’s going to go through your body, and either you get it or don’t get it. And that’s not because I’m cocky. … It’s because I’m confident in my job. I’m confident in my coaches and my teammates and (what) my training (staff) and my strength guys are doing for me. That’s why, you know?”

Gardner-Johnson had an MRI following the injury on Monday, and it showed no structural damage. He was listed as day-to-day. On Tuesday, he was back at practice as a spectator.

“I was at practice every day,” he said. “I was mentally at practice. I don’t think you understand what type of guy you got here. I ain’t miss nothin’. I ain’t miss a practice, I ain’t miss a rep, I’m still out there. My teammates still see me. One thing people got to understand, this game of football, sometimes it ain’t being about the best physically. You got to be the best mentally. So as long as my teammates know I’m out there helping them and coaching them, I don’t really care what you have to say about being back.”

Gardner-Johnson, 25, is projected to start at cornerback for the Lions.

He shared the NFL lead with six interceptions and made a career-high 67 tackles in 12 starts with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022. He missed five games with a lacerated kidney.

Prior to his lone season with the Eagles, Gardner-Johnson was with the Saints from 2019-21 after being selected by New Orleans in the fourth round of the 2019 draft.

In 55 career games (43 starts), Gardner-Johnson has 11 interceptions, 228 tackles, 36 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

–Field Level Media

Detroit Lions safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson warms up during training camp at the Detroit Lions Headquarters and Training Facility in Allen Park on Sunday, July 23, 2023.

Lions CB C.J. Gardner-Johnson (knee) carted off field

Detroit Lions cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson was carted off the field Monday with a leg injury at training camp in Allen Park, Mich.

Multiple outlets reported he was visibly upset and being comforted by teammates after sustaining a non-contact injury to his right knee during practice.

The Lions signed the 25-year-old free agent to a one-year deal worth up to $8 million with incentives in March that included $6.5 million fully guaranteed.

Gardner-Johnson shared the NFL lead with six interceptions and made a career-high 67 tackles in 12 starts with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2022. He missed five games with a lacerated kidney.

Prior to his lone season with the Eagles, Gardner-Johnson was with the Saints from 2019-21 after being selected by New Orleans in the fourth round of the 2019 draft.

In 55 career games (43 starts), Gardner-Johnson has 11 interceptions, 228 tackles, 36 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

–Field Level Media

Feb 12, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, US; Philadelphia Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson (23) tackles Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco (10) during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles’ C.J. Gardner-Johnson appealing Super Bowl fine

Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson will appeal his fine from Super Bowl LVII, his agent told NFL Network on Friday.

The NFL fined Gardner-Johnson $14,111 for lowering his head to initiate contact with the helmet of Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco.

Gardner-Johnson, 25, was not flagged on the play that occurred in the fourth quarter of Philadelphia’s 38-35 loss to Kansas City on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

Kevin Conner of Universal Sports & Entertainment Management confirmed the fine and the plan to appeal.

Gardner-Johnson shared the NFL lead with six interceptions in his first season with the Eagles in 2022, adding 67 tackles and one sack in 12 games (all starts).

He spent his first three seasons with New Orleans and has 11 interceptions, four sacks and 228 tackles in 55 career games (43 starts) with the Saints and Eagles.

–Field Level Media

Nov 1, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Javon Wims (83) gets into a fight with New Orleans Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) during the third quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Saints’ Gardner-Johnson denies report he spit on Mims

New Orleans Saints defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson on Monday denied a report that he spit on Chicago Bears receiver Javon Mims during Sunday’s game, prompting a sucker-punch and an on-field fracas.

During the third quarter of the Saints’ overtime win, Mims ran over to Gardner-Johnson – who wasn’t guarding him on the play – and sucker-punched him twice in the helmet and facemask. A fight broke out and the Bears receiver was ejected.

NFL Network reported Monday that Mims told Bears’ coaches that Gardner-Johnson spit on him in addition to ripping out his mouthpiece. Gardner-Johnson, who was slugged by teammate Michael Thomas in practice that led to Thomas missing the team’s Week 5 game, denied that report.

“It ain’t got nothing to do with me. If he’s acting out, that’s on him,” Gardner-Johnson told reporters. “It wasn’t no incident. … It’s a lot of he said, he said. Ain’t nothing happened. Nobody got spit on.”

Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy was upset with Mims after Sunday’s game, saying “I am really, really bothered by that third-quarter incident.” Nagy followed up Monday by saying he had talked to Mims.

“Out of respect, I’m going to keep that between us and internally, but we did talk to him, and regardless of what went on, he was apologetic and knows that no matter what, you can’t do what he did,” Nagy said.

Mims is expected to be suspended by the NFL.

–Field Level Media