5 Minutes With Roob

5 Minutes with Roob: Lane Johnson, from digging graves to Eagles

5 Minutes with Roob: Lane Johnson, from digging graves to Eagles

In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson:

Roob: In this segment, we like to talk about something about the player the audience might not know. Your first job in high school, tell us, was a little off of the wall?
 
Johnson: Yeah, my stepfather’s best friend was the mortician in town and I got a job digging graves. I would also mow around the funeral home. It is pretty weird getting into it, but it was an odd job.
 
Roob: It must have built up some upper-body strength for you?
 
Johnson: I mean, a lot of it you do with a tractor. Once you get down to the bottom, it is just rocks, so I had to get an anvil to chip it away.  
 
Roob: How far deep did you go? 
 
Johnson: If we were doing a vault, we would do about 6½ feet.
 
Roob: Did you ever get freaked out?
 
Johnson: I mean, there are some stories of other workers cutting close to another grave, but I don’t want to get into those details, too much information. 
 
Roob: Your hometown of Groveton, Texas, which had a population of like 12. Tell me about life growing up in a small eastern Texas town?
 
Johnson: That is exactly what it was. Every Friday night everybody was at the football game. It was a good place to get a peace of mind. I had a good school district notarized for good football in the past, so it was a good place to develop and grow.

Roob: Before you went to Oklahoma, you played JUCO for a year. What was that experience like and did it help you get prepared for what you saw Oklahoma?
 
Johnson: Kilgore College was mentally the toughest place that I have ever been. It is really hard because when you go there you aren’t guaranteed anything and if you get injured there goes your scholarship. It is a dog-eat-dog world.
 
Roob: A lot has been made about how you came out of college as a defensive lineman and a quarterback. Do you think that helped you in your ability to read defenses, your understanding of the game and grasping what defenses are doing?
 
Johnson: Like that old saying, knowledge is power. Being able to pick up on stuff later on in my career has been important. I have developed a lot more than I did early on and that all comes with experience. 
 
Roob: You guys got off to a great start in Washington. How important was it to get to 1-0? It feels like a very confident locker room right now.
 
Johnson: Yeah, it’s good. Washington is a difficult place to play. It is a place we haven’t won at in numerous seasons. We are erasing the game from our mind and focus our attention on to the next game because the season is a marathon. You can’t get too high on your horse.
 
Roob: Obviously, last year you had a lot on your mind. How much different is it to go out and play knowing that your days were numbered?
 
Johnson: I cherish every moment that I am on the field. I know a lot of people doubt my abilities. So I am going to go out and go after the best pass rushers week in and week out.
 
Roob: What was the 10-week suspension like? How did you get through that?
 
Johnson: It is so tough, it still lingers. I feel like it is my time to pay back the team and the community. I have taken a lot over the years and it is my time to give back, get established here and go play hard for my team. 
 
Roob: What did you learn from that experience?
 
Johnson: I am on thin ice. You need to have accountability and not blame others for your mistakes. It has made me a stronger person. 
 
Roob: How have the fans been with everything?
 
Johnson: Philly has been great. When I go on the road, I hear it. It has been a blessing in disguise. I am not glad it happened but it has made me a better person.
 
Roob: What is the key to going into Arrowhead Stadium, one of the loudest outdoor stadiums in the league? 
 
Johnson: We have to be crisp with our silent count. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot and we need to establish the run early. 
 
Roob: I have to ask you about Jason Peters since you have been a teammate of his for a couple of years. There will be a point where he is retired and in the Hall of Fame and you will be still playing. When all is said and done, and you look back at being around him and learning from him, how big has it been for you these first few years?
 
Johnson: I think Jason has helped develop me into the player that I am today. I had a slow start as a rookie and we would look back at mistakes I made to correct it. He is such a good person and is one of the few guys I love on this earth.

5 Minutes with Roob: Najee Goode says Eagles special teams will 'dominate' in 2017

5 Minutes with Roob: Najee Goode says Eagles special teams will 'dominate' in 2017

In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles linebacker Najee Goode:

Roob: Tell me what the key is to being a great special teamer.

Goode: Main thing is mindset. You gotta play fast. You gotta play to win every snap. Every snap you come out there to take you gotta get to the ball or you gotta make something big happen.

Roob: Did it take you a while in your career before you kind of accepted that, 'Hey, if I can't start at backer, which I want to do, I can really have a nice career as a special teamer,'? Is that a lesson that takes a while for a young guy to learn?

Goode: I mean it's really a lesson that you pick up as you start to roll into the season. Some young guys do pick it up. Me, in my case, I kind of went here and there, went from starting and back and forth. As of right now, I've definitely embraced it full on and being able to be versatile on defense and play any linebacker position is something that I take pride in, along with being a great special teamer. 

Roob: And that gives you a lot of value. I would guess you're probably better suited to outside (linebacker), but you can go to inside if you have to, right?

Goode: Yes sir. Me personally, I think I'm better suited to be inside. If I had to be anything instead of a jack of trades it'd be an ace of spades on the inside. 

Roob: Tell me about this special teams group because (Dave) Fipp's always got a top-five special teams unit. What makes him such a great coach and makes his unit so good every year?

Goode: He's a dynamic coach with an electric personality and that's something that a lot of people don't talk about. But we feed off of him and then we feed off of each other. And we got leaders like myself and Chris Maragos and Trey Burton, guys that can help out and push that. It's one thing to hear it from the coaches, but when we're out there on the field in the game time we just take our training and put it out on the field.

Roob: You've been under a lot of different coaches, as far as giving time to special teams and understanding the importance of it, it seems like you guys are doing a lot of drills out there. When training camp is open we saw you guys doing a lot of special teams work. Is that unique among you guys? 

Goode: Yeah, it's very (unique). Like you said, I was with another team and we worked on it, we embraced it. But here, it's something that we've proven that it can win games and we have the best special teams returner in the league with (Darren) Sproles. That's something that can give us points and it can take points right away. We did it against New England when (Maragos) blocked a punt and scored a touchdown. (Former Eagle Bryan Braman) blocked one in Green Bay a couple years ago and (Burton) blocked one in San Fransisco. So we know how pivotal it is to the game and how much it can change it.

Roob: Yeah, there was that one game where you guys had like three touchdowns or something on special teams. It's crazy. As a player though, tell me about what drives you as far as wanting to be a starter and still accepting your role as a special teamer. It's kind of like a two-pronged thing.

Goode: The main thing is being able to help the team. Wanting to win. Just come out and here and be able play special teams. There's not that many people that are actually great at accepting the role. There's a lot of good players, but being great, being (on) a Pro Bowl ballot, being a guy that's been nominated for things like that and playing with great players is something that always boosts your self-esteem and morale. Then when it comes to playing on defense, you gotta be a playmaker. Being able to come out and make plays is something that everyone wants to be able to do.

Roob: What's the most fun unit to be on? Is it punt coverage? You guys were like the best I've ever seen covering punts last year.

Goode: I'm actually going to have to say kickoff. Kickoff is like a bunch of human kamikazes getting the one ball and I feel bad for the returner every time he takes the field. 

Roob: What's your level of excitement? You've been through a few regular season openers. You guys are going down to Washington Sunday. What do you like about this team and how excited are you for Sunday?

Goode: The best thing I like about this team is that it's one of the most athletic. Every year we keep adding different pieces and parts. Me, Kamu (Grugier-Hill), (Maragos), (Burton), we got guys that are athletic on this team and guys that can make big plays at any given time. The fact that we're fast and the fact that we're strong, while we're being fast. (Special teams is) something I think that we're going to dominate this year."

5 Minutes with Roob: The story behind Donnel Pumphrey's track speed, college records

5 Minutes with Roob: The story behind Donnel Pumphrey's track speed, college records

In today's "Five Minutes with Roob," Reuben Frank chats with Eagles running back Donnel Pumphrey:

Roob: Welcome to Five Minutes with Roob, and we’re joined today by Eagles rookie running back Donnel Pumphrey. Donnel, thanks for joining us! 

Pumphrey: Thanks for having me!

Roob: OK, Donnel with one L. How often do people spell your name wrong?

Pumphrey: They spell it wrong all the time, whether it’s Humphrey or just putting that extra ‘L’ at the end of my first name. 

Roob: OK, let’s go back to high school. You were fast. You guys ran 41.73 in the 4-by-100, won the state title, 1:27 in the 4-by-2, you ran 21.53 in the 200. That’s fast!

Pumphrey: I grew up as a track guy, and that definitely helped me with my speed when it comes to now. I always loved track, grew up around track since fourth grade.

Roob: Let’s talk about your college career. All-time leading rusher in NCAA Division I, lot of records, lot of accolades. How did you stay grounded through all of that?

Pumphrey: I really just knew I couldn’t have done it [by] myself. There were 10 other guys on the field with me and there was the scout team giving great looks all throughout practice and our coaches put us in great position to be able to break those records and rush for long runs and stuff like that. I definitely had a lot of fun in college. It was all a blessing and hopefully, I can do it here and stay on the same path.

Roob: You had 1,159 touches in college, which is crazy. You’re not the biggest guy. How did you stay healthy under that kind of workload?

Pumphrey: The offensive line did a great job and was able to get me to the second level pretty fast, and that usually meant 1-on-1 situations and if I’m not making those guys miss, it’s usually like an ankle tackle or something like that. I try to never take big hits and that’s a big part of my game.

Roob: We always see you at practice popping right back up when you do take a big hit. Are you making a statement with that to the defense?

Pumphrey: Yeah. I’m lionhearted. Physicality is a big part of the game. Especially at this level. These are grown men that are hitting you in the mouth, so already being one of the smallest guys, it looks even worse when you’re laying on the ground. Our coach always told us if you get hit, don’t lie on the ground. I took that to heart. Whenever I get hit, I just get right back up.

Roob: The Eagles have a lot of running backs who do a lot of different things. LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, (Darren) Sproles, Corey Clement. Let’s talk specifically about Sproles, another smaller guy. What have you learned from him?

Pumphrey: I’ve learned a lot from him. It’s like having a second running backs coach out there. He’s given me a lot of pointers and really just watching him in and out of his breaks and just how he runs, it’s unreal. He’s really just a floor general out there. He knows where to be at at all times. I’m just trying to model my game after his and trying to get better. We’re trying to build for the future and hopefully, when his time is done, I’m able to jump in there and take his role. Every day, just trying to talk his ear off and get to learn all the little things. It’s not always about the big things. 

Roob: How’s this camp gone for you? Long practices, hot days. It’s a grind.

Pumphrey: It is definitely long. It’s a long process. I’m just trying to continue to get better day by day and really just hang in there. I feel I have a lot to grow on as far as ball security and just really building my craft overall as a running back. I feel like I have a lot of work to do.

Roob: What sort of role do you envision for yourself once the regular season begins? 

Pumphrey: Once the season starts, I’m really looking forward to any role they put me in. I know each week is going to be different. Corey Clement has jumped in there and has been doing great things for us. Blount and Sproles are already pretty much the featured backs, so I’m just trying to learn the offense as much as possible and whenever they call my number, I’ll be ready.

Roob: Donnel Pumphrey. One L. Pumphrey, not Humphrey. Make sure you get the name right, he’s going to be around a long time. Thanks, Donnel! 

Pumphrey: Thanks for having me!