Lane Johnson To Start In First Game Back From Suspension
After completing his 10-game suspension, Lane Johnson will start for the Eagles when they host the Giants on Thursday Night Football this week, Doug Pederson announced. Pederson previously said he was unsure of playing Johnson on a short week after missing months of action, but he noted Monday afternoon that injuries along the offensive line drove him to announce Johnson as the starter at right tackle.
Pederson hasn’t seen Johnson and doesn’t know whether he the offensive lineman in shape, but he expects Johnson to be ready. He also pointed out how Allen Barbre (hamstring), Isaac Seumalo (ankle) and Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) are all dealing with injuries.
“I’m just going, ‘Lane, you’re the guy. I don’t care if you’re X weight. You got to play,'” Pederson said. “Lane is an athlete; I’m sure he worked out and kept himself in shape.”
Pederson added that he expects Johnson to weigh around 318 or 319 pounds, which was the 26-year-old’s weight before the suspension. While Pederson acknowledged “it’s possible” for Johnson’s injury risk to be higher to play after not practicing for more than two months, he said Johnson is “such a tremendous athlete” that he doesn’t expect anything “too traumatic” to happen.”
Pederson also plans on being cautious with how much his team practices this week as they prepare to play on such a quick turnaround.
“There is a fine line between what you can do on the field and making sure they’re fresh and ready to go. You spend a lot of time in meetings and you spend as little amount of time as possible on the field,” Pederson said. “It’s more walk-through situations to keep these guys as fresh as possible. We just got to make sure — and I got to make sure — that we do the right thing by these players.”
Although Pederson named Johnson the starter at right tackle, he didn’t specify who will start at left guard. Everyone except for Kenjon Barner (hamstring) is expected to play on Thursday, which means Barbre would likely get the nod if he’s available.
WHY MATHEWS WASN’T IN
While many agreed with Pederson’s choice to attempt the two-point conversion at the end of the Eagles’ 27-26 loss to the Ravens, the more controversial element of the decision was to throw the ball. Rookie undrafted free agent Byron Marshall was in at running back instead of Ryan Mathews, who had his best game as an Eagle as he ran the ball 20 times for 128 yards and a touchdown.
“There was zero opportunity to run, because what we anticipated is what we got defensively. They gapped out; they zero-blitzed us. There was not going to be a lane; it was going to be a one-yard loss if we tried to run the football at that time,” Pederson said.
“In those situations, as a defensive coordinator, you storm the castle. That’s what they did. Then (we) try to create the matchup one-on-one, which we had a good one on our slot receiver with Jordan Matthews. Just unfortunate the one extra guy got his hand on the ball and tipped it. Didn’t matter who was in the backfield at the time. Fact of the matter was we weren’t going to run the ball in that situation.”