After suffering a non-contact injury early in the Lions’ game yesterday, it was understood that safety Tracy Walker was facing a serious diagnosis. Today, it is believed that the veteran suffered a torn Achilles, which would end his season (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network). Walker has since confirmed that he did indeed tear his Achilles and will be out for the remainder of the campaign.
“We don’t know entirely,” head coach Dan Campbell said after the game, via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett. “We’ll know more in the morning. It doesn’t look real good. Obviously, it’s the ankle area, possibly could be the Achilles.” Confirmation of the worst-case scenario is likely to deal a major blow to the Lions.
Walker, 27, emerged as a starter in his second season with the team in 2019. That marked the first of two campaigns in which he has eclipsed the 100-tackle mark, and saw him register a career-high eight pass deflections. He had another productive season in 2021, which earned him a three-year, $25MM deal in March.
The former third-rounder led the team in tackles entering Week 3 with 18, and his absence would be felt throughout the Lions’ secondary. Cornerback Jeff Okudah has returned to form after suffering an Achilles tear of his own during last year’s season opener. Now, Detroit will once again move forward with a key starter unavailable for the remainder of the campaign.
Juju Hughes filled in for Walker after the injury. The former UDFA spent the past two seasons with the Rams, making 19 appearances but primarily playing on special teams. He could see extended action on defense for the first time in his career, assuming it is confirmed that Walker will be sidelined until 2023. The Lions could also turn to third-round rookie Kerby Joseph as a fill-in option.