Can Lane Johnson Have an Instant Impact?
When the Eagles kicked off their season against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Lane Johnson was supposed to be on the field at the Linc, setting up in his stance next to Todd Herremans.
Instead, the second-year player was sitting in his buddy’s living room in Mesquite, Tex., watching on television.
“I just watched and tried to see what plays they were running,” Johnson said. “Just tried to mentally stay in touch with what the plays were.”
Johnson was suspended for the first four games of the season for testing positive for PEDs. During that stretch, he was not allowed to have any contact with the coaches, couldn’t practice and couldn’t enter the team’s facility. So Johnson headed to Frisco, Tex. to train at Athletes Performance Institute.
“As far as conditioning, I don’t care what people say. The only way you can get into football shape is playing football,” Johnson said. “…I’m in pretty decent shape. I’m not exactly where I want to be. But I think I’ll be good enough.”
Johnson woke up around 7 a.m., drove for an hour and did field work in the mornings with other football players who were training there, like NFL OLB Victor Butler. He would lift in the afternoons and get some conditioning in as well before heading back to his friend’s house around 4:30.
“What I do for pass-rush, I put on a 20-pound vest and do at least 30 pass sets,” Johnson explained. “And then I go through my run-block progressions and do some two-minute stuff, just trying to go up-tempo.”
Back in August, it seemed possible that the Eagles would ease Johnson back in. But now? That’s apparently out of the question. During the portion of practice open to the media, he lined up at right tackle with the first team. Todd Herremans set up at right guard, David Molk at center, Matt Tobin at left guard and Jason Peters at left tackle.
While he was gone, Johnson was able to watch team meetings on his iPad, and he would text back and forth with some of his teammates, specifically Herremans.
As for the offense, Johnson said: “There’s a few different variations that they added in, but not too much from what it was.”
The Eagles’ run game has been abysmal, and Nick Foles has taken his share of hits. The team could really use Johnson to provide a boost.
“I think me and Todd got it going pretty good towards [the end of] last year,” Johnson said. “We were moving the ball really well, so try to get Shady back in the game, get those yards back up and start attacking again.
“I think it’s gonna take a few games to get to top-notch level, but I don’t think I’m too far off right now.”
Added Peters: “It’s gonna be awesome to have Lane back. Todd goes back to his natural position. We’re still missing [Jason] Kelce and [Evan] Mathis, but those other guys are gonna step in and do better this game because you’ve got Lane back. It makes it solid on the inside.”
Johnson is currently at a playing weight of about 315 – right where he wants to be. He’ll move from the couch to the field for Sunday’s game against the Rams, with hopes of helping the offense get back on track.
“The way it is, I gotta play,” Johnson said. “That was my job to come back in decent shape and come back ready, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”