According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is out indefinitely with a lacerated kidney he suffered in Sunday night’s showdown against the Packers.
Testing is still ongoing, and while there’s no timetable for a return, it’s a non-surgical injury and is not expected to be season-ending.
It’s a non-surgical injury. Testing is ongoing, so timetable still TBD, but it is not expected to be season-ending.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 29, 2022
CJGJ’s injury came in the first half against Green Bay following a collision with receiver Christian Watson. The 24-year-old was eventually carted to the locker room, finishing the game with 11 snaps (22%).
It’s definitely a blow for both Philadelphia and Gardner-Johnson, who currently leads the NFL with six interceptions to go along with 55 tackles and eight passes defended.
Because of CJGJ’s uncertainty around the severity of his injury, a move to the IR might not be immediate (or necessary). But the Eagles will need to make peace with his absence for the next couple games – which raises the question of who will take his place.
Who could step in for CJGJ at safety?
Reed Blankenship got extended action following Gardner-Johnson’s injury, playing 33 snaps (71%) on defense. He made his mark for sure, intercepting Aaron Rodgers on play where he showed fantastic reading abilities.
For right now, Blankenship will be the one to take over CJGJ’s duties aside Marcus Epps. Depth players, including K’Von Wallace and Andre Chachere, could also see upticks in their playing time over the next several weeks.
The Eagles might look to solidify their depth by bringing in free agent veterans, as they did with Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph following injuries at the defensive line. It does feel likely at least one player will be brought in.
Also an intriguing possibility being thrown around – a potential return of Malcolm Jenkins. All talk about a reunion has been merely speculative, but it is plausible. Jenkins clearly cherishes the time he had here greatly, he’s familiar with all of the current players, and he’s apparently in shape:
“I can still play. I’m still in shape. I’m still working out. It’s not far fetched. I’m still in it. I do enjoy my seat watching as a fan, but I could come in for a stretch”
-Malcolm Jenkins before CJGJ’s injury and he loves CJGJ
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) November 29, 2022
Having Jenkins return feels fitting, and it would provide an unbelievable veteran presence. Jenkins’ previous level of play shouldn’t be expected, but if he could contribute enough to get the team by until CJGJ’s return, then bringing him back seems like a no-brainer.