Eagles

With Jason Peters re-signed, Lane Johnson again biding time at right tackle

With Jason Peters re-signed, Lane Johnson again biding time at right tackle

Lane Johnson figured he'd play a couple years, Jason Peters would retire, and he'd swing over from right tackle over to left tackle.

Now, Johnson is entering his fifth NFL season and that move seems no closer than when he got here.

"He may be 54 out there playing left tackle," Johnson said of Peters with a laugh. "He’s a different breed, man. He’s so big and strong, his body can do it. … 

"I might be over here my whole career, but I'm just going to make the best of it."

Peters probably won't play quite that long, but Johnson is an interesting position.

He was drafted as the Eagles' eventual left tackle, he believes he's a better left tackle than right tackle, and the contract extension he signed early last year pays him like a left tackle.

But Peters just won't retire.

Peters, 35, on Tuesday agreed to terms of a contract extension that shifts his future base salary into guaranteed money and makes it likely he'll be here for three more years (see story).

Johnson won't be 42 by 2019, but he will be 29 and going into his seventh season.

"I’m fine with it," Johnson said at his locker after minicamp practice on Wednesday. "Great player, been with the franchise a long time. I’ll probably end up right tackle this year, maybe one day he’ll end up going to guard, but he’ll play left tackle this year and I’ll play right. 

"But I’m just glad he’s here. Every day he’s here makes me a better player."

Head coach Doug Pederson suggested that the Eagles could move Peters to guard, presumably left guard, at some point in the future, and Peters said he's fine with that (see story).

Imagine Johnson at left tackle and Peters at left guard?

"Be like running behind a damn buffalo," Johnson said. "He’s just so big, man. So big and strong. Not many guys at 350 can run and move like he does."

But for now, Johnson is preparing for his fifth season at right tackle — he missed four games in 2014 and 10 games last year with NFL suspensions for a banned substance — and Peters is getting ready for his 14th NFL season and ninth with the Eagles.

Peters began his career as an undrafted tight end with the Bills before moving to tackle in his second season.

He's been to nine Pro Bowls and hasn't missed a Pro Bowl in a season he's played since 2006.

"I’ve got one of the best of all-time so I know if I can keep my play similar to his … I know I'm doing good," Johnson said. "From my first year to my second year is when I made the biggest jump as a player and it’s just knowledge. Stuff he’s experienced over the years. 

"He’s played a lot more players than I have. Gives me advice against guys I’m playing against. It’s just advice you don’t get anywhere else."

Johnson said he's happy playing right tackle, but he believes he's better suited to play left tackle.

"I think I’m better at left," Johnson said. "I’m a lot more fluid at left tackle. … I think I'm a better pass blocker on the left. I’ve gotten better on the right, but it’s just not as natural. I don’t know why. … Probably (because) having your strong hand inside so you’re able to be quick on your counter moves. I just feel quicker. I don’t know why.

“A lot of times they say the left tackle has great feet and the right tackle is less athletic. My deal was I got the best ever playing on left. One of the best ever. A Hall of Fame player. So I’ll bide my time till I’m over there. Just got stuck in a good situation for me."

Johnson is one positive test away from a two-year suspension, but he said his lawsuit against the NFL and the NFLPA to retroactively rescind the second suspension and re-guarantee contract money that became non-guaranteed upon his second suspension is still on course.

"It’s still ongoing, that’s all I can say," he said. "May be done sometime this year, but I really don’t know. Just kind of letting the lawyers do their thing and sit back and play football. 

"Sometimes these things take years. Hopefully, it gets solved before then but you really just don’t know. It’s just back and forth. Not much stuff has been resolved. Just going through paperwork."

Because of his suspensions, Johnson has missed 14 games — almost the equivalent of a full season.

He said his focus this year is playing 16 consistent games wherever he's lined up.

"I just want to go out there and show people what kind of tackle I am," he said. "I feel like I’m one of the best in the league and go out there and do a lot less talking and show people what I can do. 

"I want to be the best in the league this year. No ifs, ands or buts. … I’m not trying to get arrogant or anything, but you go watch the film. My deal is just stay on the field."

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

On a day that will be remembered most for a player the Eagles lost to an injury (see story), they did learn that they are getting another player back after a long injury rehab.

The Eagles are finally going to get a look this week at rookie second-round pick Sidney Jones at practice. Whether he actually gets into a football game this year is still in doubt.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that nine months after he blew out his Achilles and eight months after the Eagles drafted him, Jones has finally been medically cleared to practice and will participate to some extent Wednesday when the Eagles get back to work following their win over the Rams Sunday in Los Angeles.

“We're just to the point of just want to see him out there running around, doing football activities outside of the normal workouts that he's been doing,” Pederson said Monday. “Just really changing direction and doing more football work this week.”

Jones tore his left Achilles during his pro day workout on March 11 and has spent the entire season so far on the reserve-non football injury list, which is for players with preexisting conditions dating before the first day of practice.

The Eagles had a window running from Week 7 until this week to activate Jones for practice, and once he practices on Wednesday, they’ll have 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year.

The Eagles have the luxury of taking their time with Jones, thanks to the play of starting corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, slot corner Patrick Robinson and fourth corner Rasul Douglas.

Before his injury, Jones was projected as a first-round draft pick. The Eagles got him with the 43rd pick, but even if he doesn’t play until opening day next year, he will still be only 22 years old and under contract through 2020.

Jones had nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 8½ tackles for loss and 145 tackles in 40 career games for the University of Washington.

It remains to be seen where Jones will fit in next year, but Robinson, although he has played well, is due to become a free agent this offseason and turns 31 in September.

Douglas and Jones are signed through 2020, Mills through 2019 and Darby through 2018.

Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

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Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

Remember when the Eagles lost Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles and plenty of folks thought the season was over? 

Doug Pederson does. 

Sure, this isn't exactly an apples-to-oranges comparison. Losing a left tackle or a middle linebacker or a running back isn't the same thing as losing an MVP-level quarterback entering his prime. It would be unfair to suggest they're the same. 

But Pederson has seen his team hurdle over every obstacle this year. With the biggest one yet now in front of them, it's his job to convince his team they can do it again. 

On Monday, Pederson tried to convince fans who have prematurely canceled Christmas. 

"To the fans out there, you can't lose faith," Pederson said. "This has been a resilient football team all season long. If there's ever an opportunity for me as a head football coach to rally the troops, now might be the time. 

"We just came off a tremendous victory to win the NFC East. Guys are riding extremely high. It's a little bittersweet. But you know what? We've got the Giants this week and we've got an opportunity to ... if you win Sunday, you get a first-round bye. There's still a lot to play for. That's what's exciting about this season. We're still playing for the opportunity to hopefully be in that game."

Pederson, just after delivering news of a torn ACL, was adamant that his team can overcome the loss of Carson Wentz. 

"It sure can," he said. "Heck yeah." 

It won't be easy. Before leaving Sunday's game, Wentz threw his 33rd touchdown pass of the 2017 season, breaking the Eagles' franchise record that had stood since 1961. But more than touchdown passes, Wentz made special plays seemingly every week, plays that only a handful of quarterbacks in the world can make. 

Nick Foles is a pretty adequate backup, and he did a nice job when called upon against the Rams. But he ain't Carson Wentz. Everyone, including his teammates, knows that. 

It's just that they don't have time to wallow in the loss of their superstar leader. Next weekend might be huge. 

A win against the Giants would earn the Eagles a first-round bye. A win against the Giants, paired with a Vikings loss, would earn them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. After another obstacle was dropped in front of them on Monday morning, the Eagles can still help themselves. 

Pederson's role in all this is vital. He has to be the guy to hold it all together.  

"It's huge," he said. "I think even the guys felt it after the game yesterday. We just rally and we support the next guy. From my standpoint, you don't waver, man. You don't let people see you sweat, you just put your head down and you go to work. You get everybody ready to play. It was evident yesterday when Carson was out of the game, you saw Nick come in and come back and lead us to victory in that game. That right there is a great step in the right direction."