Johnson injured his knee during the first half Sunday in a 42-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He then appeared on the sidelines with a brace on the knee and he tried to loosen up on the bike and stretch it out on his own.
He never returned to the game, and after halftime he did not come out of the locker room with the team. He will be out for at least eight games. The earliest he could return is in mid-December.
"Obviously, you know how much we value Kerryon and what a great part of our offense and our team he is," Lions coach Matt Patricia said Tuesday. "He's still here and he's still part of all that, certainly, but on the field we'll push forward as normal and we think we'll get good production with Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic, and we think those guys are ready to step into roles."
Patricia also mentioned recently signed Tra Carson as someone the team is learning about. Patricia said Detroit is prepared to go with a running back by committee with Johnson out. Patricia also didn't rule out making a trade for a running back, saying, "We're always kind of [in] the business of listening."
Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said they have a good feel for Ty Johnson and McKissic and he'll have to "accentuate the positives they have" to put them in positions to be successful and move on with who they have.
It's the second straight year Johnson will miss significant time for Detroit. He missed the final six games of last season after suffering a left knee injury. Patricia said the Lions aren't concerned about Kerryon Johnson's long-term stability despite another knee injury.
"We talked about this last year, about the overall running backs in the NFL, and there's only a few of them that take every single snap during a game. There's only about a handful," Patricia said. "So we're prepared to go running back by committee or whoever's out there being ready to go. Obviously in Kerryon's case, he's such a great kid and works extremely hard.
"... I've been around players before that have had a lot of injuries early in their careers and setbacks and had nothing for six or seven years after that. We'll take them all case by case and see how that goes."
Johnson gained 308 yards rushing with two touchdowns and 126 yards receiving with one touchdown in his games this year. In his career, he has 210 carries for 949 yards and five touchdowns rushing and 41 catches for 339 yards and two touchdowns receiving.