Kerryon Johnson Back At Practice For Lions, Could Return This Season

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Photo credit © Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press, Detroit Free Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC

For Kerryon Johnson, 2019 isn't over yet. 

The Lions starting running back practiced for the first time Wednesday since undergoing a knee operation after Detroit's Week 7 loss to the Vikings, and he's eligible to return in Week 16 against the Broncos. 

“Work him back in, obviously take our time as far as that’s concerned," said Matt Patricia. "Get him back out there and kind of get him playing football again. Excited to have the opportunity to do that."

Some might argue the Lions would be better off shutting down Johnson for the year, especially given his history of injuries. That apparently includes Glover Quin, who let his feelings be known via Instagram. (Quin had a lot to say about the Lions Wednesday, including doubts about the team's love for Patricia.)


— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurkeNFL) December 4, 2019

But that's not the opinion of Patricia. 

“I think it’s always important to play football, practice football and do everything you can as much as possible, especially if you’re a young player, especially if you’re a player that’s missed some time," said Patricia. "I think it’s great to get back out there and kind of have that opportunity to get back to work."

Johnson missed six games last season with a sprained knee. He also dealt with numerous injuries in college. The Lions upped his workload this season, much to Johnson's approval, then watched him go down less than halfway through the year. 
He was averaging 17.4 carries through six games, which placed him among the NFL leaders. He averaged 11.8 carries in 2018. Johnson's efficiency tumbled, though, by more than two yards per carry. 
In Johnson's absence, the Lions have started Ty Johnson, Tra Carson, J.D. McKissic and Bo Scarbrough at running back. Scarbrough has been the best of the bunch, with 236 yards and a touchdown on 53 carries through three games. He'll start Sunday at Minnesota. 

But Johnson could reclaim the job before the end of the season.