Eagles

Lane Johnson earns trophy for shutting down NFL's 'best' pass rusher

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Lane Johnson earns trophy for shutting down NFL's 'best' pass rusher

Inside Lane Johnson's locker sat a pristine No. 58 Von Miller jersey. It wasn't the one Miller wore during the game; that one went to Fletcher Cox.

This was one still clean, neatly folded inside a clear plastic bag. Miller summoned a Broncos equipment manager to get it for Johnson after Johnson handed him his No. 65 jersey. It's a pretty common NFL postgame ritual.

"Just another one to hang on the wall," he said after tapping the plastic-wrapped jersey.

Johnson can consider this one a trophy.

Because for most of Sunday afternoon, Johnson shut down the best pass rusher in the entire league. No sacks, no QB hits, no QB hurries as the Eagles' crushed the Broncos, 51-23 (see breakdown).

"He's a very disruptive player and can take over a game so I just wanted to neutralize him the best I could," Johnson said. "I had a good game against him. As far as confidence, it boosts my confidence a little bit but everything we want is in front of us the next seven games. Take this week off to rest and get back at it."

Since entering the league in 2011, Miller has 81.5 sacks. That's the most in the league and over five more than the next closest guy on the list. Miller did pick up a strip sack Sunday afternoon, but it came against Isaac Seumalo after Johnson was taken out of the game with a huge lead. Miller admitted he would have preferred to get the sack when the Eagles didn't "have the ‘B’ team in."

When Johnson was in the game, Miller simply couldn't get anything going.

"Lane did a heckuva job against Von Miller, who to me, that guy is the best guy I have ever seen on film," tight end Brent Celek said. "You gotta give Lane a lot of credit, man. He did a heckuva job." 

Johnson said the key to neutralizing Miller is getting off the ball to match Miller's quickness. He also said it's important to not get fooled by Miller's wiggle, which aims to raise a tackle up and then go through him with a bull rush. 

This matchup against Miller was one of the reasons the Eagles elected to keep Johnson at right tackle even after Jason Peters went down for the season. Miller, Demarcus Lawrence and Khalil Mack all line up on the left side of the defensive line more often than not. The Eagles preferred to have Johnson face those top pass-rushers instead of Halapoulivaati Vaitai. 

Johnson has been playing at a Pro Bowl level in 2017.

"Lane is one of those guys, man, that when he gets locked in in a zone, he's tough — he's a tough tackle," Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said. "Hats off to him the way he prepares, too, and the way he practices to get ready for guys like Von Miller."

Johnson is seeking some redemption this year after serving a 10-game PED suspension last season. It was his second offense and a third would probably end his career with a two-year ban. He also missed four games for his first PED violation in 2014. 

"With the things that have gone bad in my career, I just want to show people what I'm capable of as a tackle," Johnson said. "That's really it, man. I just want to reach my full potential. If I do that, man, I think I did pretty good."

Shutting down Miller is a pretty good start. 

Alshon Jeffery listed as questionable vs. Cowboys

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Alshon Jeffery listed as questionable vs. Cowboys

Alshon Jeffery will be listed as questionable for Sunday night's game in Dallas. 

The Eagles' receiver popped up on the injury report with an ankle injury on Thursday, when he was limited. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said he expects Jeffery to play and he's optimistic he'll be able to go. On Thursday, Jeffery said he will "most definitely" play against the Cowboys. 

"It's been kind of lingering a little while," Pederson said. "There's no really one particular game or instance. It's hard for me to even put a finger on when it happened or how it happened. 

"It's something too in his case with all the cutting and stopping and starting in practice and games and where we are at that time of the year, you're going to start seeing more and more guys get added to the list or taken some reps off at practice, just so we can keep them healthy for Sunday."

Zach Ertz (hamstring), Ronald Darby (ankle) and Jaylen Watkins (hamstring) were full participants on Wednesday and Thursday, the two most important practice days of the week. The Eagles will practice in their bubble on Friday afternoon. Barring setbacks, Ertz and Darby should make their returns on Sunday. 

Ertz missed the Denver game and Darby hasn't played since Week 1, when he dislocated his right ankle. 

The Cowboys are reportedly going to be without left tackle Tyron Smith and linebacker Sean Lee. They're also missing Ezekiel Elliott, who will serve the second game of his six-game suspension.

Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 11 picks: 2 games that will impact Eagles

Derrick Gunn's NFL Week 11 picks: 2 games that will impact Eagles

Derrick Gunn makes his picks for Week 11 of the NFL season.

Eagles at Cowboys (Sunday 8:30 p.m. on NBC)
Now that their bye week is over, the Eagles are focused on wrapping up the NFC East. Dallas is licking its wounds after getting manhandled down in Atlanta. Ezekiel Elliott is serving his suspension. LB Sean Lee is out with a hamstring injury, and Pro Bowl LT Tyron Smith is ailing with a groin injury. It all sounds too easy for the Birds, but with Dak Prescott on the other side, they’re not about to overlook this one. And they still remember what happened in Dallas last season.

Without Elliott and Smith, trying to establish a ground game against the Eagles’ top-ranked run defense will be near impossible. Dallas is 0-2 in games Lee hasn't played in this season. Carson Wentz will spread the wealth through the air, and now that Jay Ajayi has had extended time to get familiar with the offense, the Birds' running attack should be even more diversified. If the Eagles' defense can make the Cowboys' offense one-dimensional, it's game over.

Pick: Eagles 27, Cowboys 17

Detroit at Chicago (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
The Bears’ defense is actually decent, ranked ninth overall, but the offense is abysmal. In their last two outings, the Bears hung tough, losing by eight to New Orleans and by seven to Green Bay. Chicago just doesn't have enough offensive firepower to hang with Matthew Stafford and the Lions.

Pick: Lions

Jacksonville at Cleveland (Sunday 1 p.m. on CBS)
This is a matchup of feast or famine, and the Jags' defense (first in sacks with 35) should be doing a lot of feasting. The Jags are tied for first in the AFC South and should win their fourth in a row.

Pick: Jaguars

Baltimore at Green Bay (Sunday 1 p.m. on CBS)
Aaron Rodgers’ replacement Brett Hundley has improved each week, but this time he's facing a Ravens defense that leads the league in interceptions with 13. It is likely the Packers will be without their top two rushers. Joe Flacco has been a disappointment this year (eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions) but he will pile up yards against a generous Packers' pass defense. Ravens win a close one.

Pick: Ravens

Tampa Bay at Miami (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
The 3-6 Bucs vs. 4-5 Fins. No one expected both of these teams to have losing records at this stage of the season. Tampa’s list of offensive weapons on paper is impressive but has not lived up to expectations. The Dolphins are a mess, losing the last three and giving up 40 or more points in two of their last three. Somebody has to win this battle of Florida. Bucs get a slight nod.

Pick: Bucs

Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
This clash of division leaders is worth watching as both are 7-2 and behind the Eagles in the NFC. The Rams are the best scoring offense (32.9 points per game) and are facing the Vikings’ No. 5 scoring defense (18.3 ppg). Jared Goff has come into his own and Case Keenum has been solid. It comes down to which defense can get the most stops. The Vikings’ D is really good and playing at home. Advantage Minnesota.

Pick: Vikings

Washington at New Orleans (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
The 'Skins keep losing frontline bodies while the Saints, at 7-2, just keep winning. Drew Brees has completed a minimum of 71 percent of his passes the last four games and the Saints' D isn’t bad, ranked eighth overall. The Redskins will not win in the Bayou.

Pick: Saints

Kansas City at New York Giants (Sunday 1 p.m. on CBS)
Andy Reid's crew is lucky the rest of the AFC West is struggling. The Chiefs have had a bye week to fix the problems they had against Dallas. Meanwhile, the Giants have become a laughingstock. Players are getting suspended, and others are grumbling. The Giants will do a lot of sulking after Kansas City is through with them.

Pick: Chiefs

Arizona at Houston (Sunday 1 p.m. on FOX)
Both teams are without their starting QBs. The Cardinals still don't know who will start this one, Blaine Gabbert or Drew Stanton. Tom Savage has been ineffective for Houston the last two games (46 completion percentage, two touchdowns and two interceptions). All of the Cardinals’ losses have been against teams with winning records. This will be ‘Zona’s first loss to a team under .500.

Pick: Texans

Buffalo at Los Angeles Chargers (Sunday 4:05 p.m. on FOX)
What has happened to the Bills? The defense can't stop anybody. The Bills are losers of two straight and now QB Tyrod Taylor is benched. Philip Rivers is in the concussion protocol. If it’s a battle of backup QBs, I’ll take the Chargers’ Kellen Clemens over the Bills’ rookie Nathan Peterman.

Pick: Chargers

Cincinnati at Denver (Sunday 4:25 p.m. on CBS)
The only thing these two 3-6 teams have left to play for is pride. The Broncos have lost five straight and the last three to the Chiefs, Eagles and Patriots. The Bengals are minus-9 in turnover differential but Andy Dalton, who hasn't thrown a pick in his last three games, will lead Cincy to victory.

Pick: Bengals

New England at Oakland (Sunday 4:25 p.m. on CBS)
Like them or not, the Patriots just keep finding ways to win. Their defense is ranked dead last, yet once again, they control the AFC East. Old Man Brady still has many tricks up his sleeve and will dissect the Raiders’ defense.

Pick: Patriots

Atlanta at Seattle (8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN)
The Falcons were impressive against Dallas, but that was in their dome. This one will be outdoors in the cold with possible rain, and the 'Hawks' 12th man will be out in full force. Seattle can't run the ball but Russell Wilson can carry this team on his back. The Seahawks desperately need a win to stay close to the Rams. They’ll get the W.

Pick: Seahawks