Nov 17, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65) during the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Redskins 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

How Do Eagles Tackle Life Without Lane Johnson

Life without Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson?

All signs point to the Philadelphia Eagles being without their second year starting tackle Lane Johnson for the first portion of the 2014 season.

Philadelphia Daily News journalist Paul Domowitch reported on Monday that Johnson has tested positive for PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) and will be suspended for the first four games of the season. At the time of writing, the NFL league office has not yet confirmed the suspension, however this is not uncommon in these types of stories.

It is a blow for the Philadelphia Eagles, who managed to maintain a very consistent feel to their starting offensive line last season, following a disastrous 2012 season where the unit was hit by injuries.

As the Eagles come to terms with the likely loss of Johnson, what should Head Coach Chip Kelly and General Manager Howie Roseman do to address the issue.

Firstly, it is likely that the Eagles will carry an extra offensive lineman on the 53 man roster. It is likely that tackles Dennis Kelly and Michael Bamiro now make the roster, leaving Allen Barbre as the main back up with Kelly and Bamiro adding depth. This will have to be at the expense of players at another position and it could well be that a player such as Alejandro Villanueva (defensive end/tight end) may miss out as a result.

Other worried players may include wide receivers Jeff Maehl and Arrelious Benn, who figure to be on the bubble by the end of training camp.

Given the importance of players at the line of scrimmage, this is a big blow for the Eagles and one that must be allayed by the addition of a tackle to the roster.

Worryingly, this is the second Eagles player to be suspended for the first 4 games of 2014, with linebacker Jake Knott also out for a failed PED test. Could these issues be down to Chip Kelly’s belief that “big guys beat up little guys” and pressure felt by the players to be bigger and stronger? Hopefully the Eagles will learn from the mistakes of Knott and, seemingly Johnson, by staying away from PEDs!

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  • John Down

    Before everyone starts the “woe is me” stuff, the Eagles no doubt have a plan to deal with this. First of all, Johnson (and Knott) get to practice in camp and in all pre-season activities. Then they take the 4-week hiatus. This keeps them in the loop and game-ready when they return (Knott’s return could be iffy). Second, you mentioned the backups, but you did not mention other possibilities. As noted yesterday in other Philly area articles, the Eagles could move Herremans back to right tackle (where he started earlier in his career) and move Barbre to right guard. Or keep Herremans at RG and move Barbre to tackle, which is one less personnel move and should also cover the 4-week absence of Johnson sufficiently. Or, one of the other backups (you mentioned several) wins a job for 4 weeks at either RG or RT. Dennis Kelly is most likely the candidate in that scenario, if he has recovered from his back issues, since he has game experience at both RG and RT. Besides, he is one BIG lineman (big people beat up little people, right?!). Another option is that they get a free agent who wins the job. That is least likely. Kelly will want someone who already knows the system and is a “plug-n-play.” Don’t worry – have confidence in Kelly and the coaches to have a solid solution for this problem.