Lions dealt huge blow, place Kerryon Johnson on IR after knee surgery
Allen Park — For the second consecutive season, Kerryon Johnson is heading to injured reserve with a knee injury. The Detroit Lions running back had surgery Tuesday, according to coach Matt Patricia.
"Kerryodn had a procedure here a little bit later in the morning," Patricia said. "We will be pacing him on IR with hopes that he can return later in the season. Saw him after his procedure, he was doing good, good spirits and everything. We'll just take it as it goes from here."
Johnson, a second-round pick out of Auburn a year ago, started the first six games for the Lions, rushing for 308 yards and two touchdowns with 92 carries. He added another 126 yards and a score on nine receptions.
"Obviously you now how much we value Kerryon and what a great part of our offense and our team he is," Patricia said. "He's still here. He's still part of all that."
Patricia noted he's hopeful to get Johnson back in 2019. By placing him on injured reserve, Johnson is required to miss at least eight games, making him eligible to return for the team's Dec. 22 matchup against the Denver Broncos.
"Obviously we feel very bad for Kerryon that he's in the situation, but I know he's a tough kid and he works very hard, so very optimistic about him going forward," Patricia said.
Johnson was limited to 10 games as a rookie, also because of a knee injury. He suffered the most recent injury in the first quarter of Detroit's 42-30 loss to Minnesota on Sunday.
With Johnson out, the Lions are left with three running backs on the active roster, rookie Ty Johnson, J.D. McKissic and recent waiver claim Tra Carson.
With Kerryon out of the lineup against Minnesota, Ty shouldered most of the load, outsnapping McKissic, 49-19 and recording twice as many carries.
"On the field, we'll push forward as normal," Patricia said. "We think the we can get good production with Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic, I think those guys are ready to step into their roles, and were able to acquire Tra Carson last week, another guys that's on our team, and everyone's going to have to step up and keep pushing forward.
"That's the biggest thing we're trying to do is when situations come up here throughout the course of the year that — and it always will for every team in the NFL — that we're just prepared to rightly move forward and be as productive as we can no matter who is out there on the field."
Beyond the options on the roster, there will likely be plenty of speculation about adding another back to the roster. Among the options are practice squader Paul Perkins or veteran C.J. Anderson, who was with the team through the early part of the season.
Additionally, there are a handful of intriguing options who figure to be on the trading block. That group is led by Melvin Gordon and Kenyan Drake.
Gordon, coming off a lengthy holdout, is likely to carry a steep price tag despite his sluggish performance since returning to the Chargers. In the previous two seasons, he averaged 1,478 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdown over 14 games.
The 25-year-old Drake, in the final year of his rookie deal with the Dolphins, has averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 35 receptions per season during his career.
"The interesting thing about the trade deadline is you can acquire people much before the deadline, so I think we're always kind of in the business of listening and people are interested in doing something to their rosters," Patricia said. "We're always trying to improve our roster every single day, as best we can. Whatever those opportunities are, I'm sure (general manager) Bob (Quinn) and his staff, they listen to a lot of different conversations that go on. Those things will take care of themselves when they present themselves. For us right now, honestly we're just focused on the guys that are here, that's all that's really important to us, just trying to improve our team currently and obviously get ready for a big game against the Giants."
Last season, the Lions made two big trades near the deadline, sending wide receiver Golden Tate to the Eagles in exchange for a third-round pick and acquiring defensive tackle Damon Harrison from the Giants for a fifth-rounder.
On Tuesday, shortly after announcing Johnson was heading to injured reserve, the Lions traded safety Quandre Diggs to the Seahawks.
The NFL's trading deadline this year is 4 p.m. on Oct. 29.