The Eagles had undrafted free agent in Reed Blankenship step up in their win over the Packers on Sunday night.
While that’s great news for the team’s roster going forward, the bad news was obviously that it came about because CJ Gardner-Johnson, who the team acquired from the Saints in a trade during the preseason, left the game with an apparent rib injury.
The NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on Tuesday morning that the actual injury the Eagles starting safety suffered was a lacerated kidney.
#Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is out indefinitely after suffering a lacerated kidney in Sunday night’s win over the #Packers, per sources. 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
#Eagles safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson is out indefinitely after suffering a lacerated kidney in Sunday night’s win over the #Packers, per sources. It’s a non-surgical injury. Testing is ongoing, so timetable still TBD, but it is not expected to be season-ending.
The injury will surely sideline Gardner-Johnson, but for how long is not yet known. Current lower-end estimates (depending on severity of the injury) are around three weeks, so a placement on IR (which would require he miss four games minimum) in the coming days would seem pretty likely unless the team is sure he will be back after missing only three games.
A move to IR may also help the Eagles delay or avoid a roster crunch as it could give the team open roster spots they could use to return players like Jordan Davis, Dallas Goedert or Avonte Maddox when they are ready without needing to release players to make room.
Gardner-Johnson started out the season slowly while learning his role in the defense, but has since been having a career year – he has already registered 60 tackles (his career high was 66 in five more games) and a league-leading six interceptions along with a sack and eight defensed passes.
He is expected to return this season.
The Eagles currently have K’Von Wallace, Andre Chachere and the aforementioned Reed Blankenship as the only other safeties on their 53-man roster to play alongside Marcus Epps. Josiah Scott has previously served as a safety, but has been filling in as the nickel corner for Avonte Maddox the last several weeks.
Considering recent snap counts, it’d seem that Jonathan Gannon is confident in K’Von Wallace being able to contribute and he has to be impressed with what Blankenship was able to do in his first real taste of the NFL.
Marquise Blair is the only safety the team has on their practice squad at the moment.