Two Eagles players have been suspended for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs this offseason. The team only had one drug suspension during the 14 years under Andy Reid. Chip Kelly was asked at the start of training camp Saturday whether there is a lack of oversight from this current regime.
“No, I think we educate our players all the time. Everyone in the NFL knows you’re going to get tested. There’s also some individual responsibility that goes with the player,” said Kelly. “They’re also their own men. It’s no different than if you got pulled over for DUI, are you going to tell your employers that you didn’t tell me I couldn’t do that? There’s a lot of responsibilities. [Jake Knott and Lane Johnson] are both adults, they both made mistakes, they are going to pay a very hefty price for those mistakes, they are going to miss four games, they are going to miss four game checks, and hopefully that works.”
Johnson was officially suspended earlier this week. He explained upon arrival Friday that he was taking a prescribed drug without running it by the team to see if it was on the banned list. Whatever the story, the fact remains that he will miss the first four games of the regular season. Per NFL rules, the suspension begins upon the posting of the final rosters. Once suspended, a player is not able to participate in team activities, use the team facilities or have contact with any club officials except to arrange off-site medical treatment. That heightens the degree of difficulty when it comes to keeping up and being being ready to jump back in once the suspension is lifted.
Johnson is allowed to participate in preseason practices and games, but it sounds like he won't be working with the first team. Allen Barbre will be getting the first-team reps at right tackle to start off.
"We have to prepare for the first four games so we have to get the guy who is going to be the starting right tackle for the first four games in there," said Kelly, "so it will have a big impact on where he is. But we still have to develop Lane so he'll get reps but they won't be with the first team right now."
Johnson said he originally found out about the failed drug test in May. Barbre's three-year contract extension was announced in early June. Kelly said that the team had been working on a new contract for the 30-year-old Barbre for some time, and that the two are unrelated.
"I think he's big, he's physical, he's a very strong-handed guy. When he gets his hands on people he can really move people. He's got a great understanding in terms of being a guard-tackle for us," said Kelly. "When he got extended time for us, especially in the Green Bay game when Jason [Peters] was out he did a really, really nice job at left tackle for us. The biggest thing is just him transitioning over."
Barbre (6-4, 303), a seven-year vet, played for the Packers and Seahawks before joining the Eagles last year. He has seven professional starts, all of them coming in 2009 while in Green Bay.