Lions Reportedly Place Kerryon Johnson on Injured Reserve with Knee Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2018

Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson (33) runs the ball against the Carolina Panthers during an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Detroit. The Lions won the game 20-19. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

The Detroit Lions reportedly placed rookie running back Kerryon Johnson on injured reserve Wednesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport confirmed the report and added that Johnson should be fully recovered for next season.

Johnson has missed each of the team's past four games with a sprained left knee.

The 21-year-old emerged as Detroit's feature back prior to the injury, rushing for 641 yards and three scores while adding 32 receptions for 213 yards and one touchdown in 10 games (seven starts).

His 5.4 yards per carry are tied with Denver Broncos rookie running back Phillip Lindsay for the second-best mark among qualified players (behind only Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones at 5.5).

The second-round pick out of Auburn solidified a position that has had a lot of turnover in recent years and gave the Lions a between-the-tackles featured runner and a more complete option than they've had in several seasons.

That will make replacing him a job for a committee. While Johnson is out of action, the Lions will rely on the trio of LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner.

Blount is almost exclusively a short-yardage and goal-line back at this juncture of his career, while Riddick is essentially an extra receiver, especially since Detroit traded Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles at the Oct. 30 deadline.

Zenner is arguably the most complete runner among that trio, and he led the Lions with 10 carries last week in a one-point loss to the Buffalo Bills.

All three backs had at least seven carries against the Bills, though, which suggests that head coach Matt Patricia will continue to employ a committee approach in the final two games against the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.         

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