As the Eagles begin preparations in Dallas week, most people have already assumed Lane Johnson won’t be playing in this game because of a knee injury he suffered in London.
Reports have called it a Grade 2 MCL sprain, which would normally keep a player out for about a month. So it would be overly optimistic to think Johnson could play through this injury a couple weeks after sustaining it.
But Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland isn’t ready to say definitively that Johnson won’t play Sunday night against the Cowboys.
“You’re not counting Lane out, are you?” Stoutland said when asked a question about Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s preparation as a starter. “I think he’s a tough guy. I think that knowing Lane Johnson, anything he can do to be out on that field, he’ll be there. I’m not a doctor or anything like that, but I know how he operates.”
It is worth noting that earlier this season, after Jason Peters partially tore his biceps, Stoutland said he didn’t think Peters would miss any time. Peters started six days later against the Panthers.
Johnson had already been playing through a high ankle sprain but playing through an MCL sprain like this would be pretty remarkable.
Stoutland was then asked if the team has to consider how effective Johnson might be even if he’s physically able to be on the field.
“He went into the last game banged up,” Stoutland said. “I don’t know if you watched the first seven or eight plays before he got injured, but he didn’t look hurt to me. He was flying around. He was playing extremely well. I think that’s this time of year right now. There’s a lot of players that are banged up.”
The Eagles will begin practicing this week Wednesday. We’ll see if Johnson is able to participate even a little bit. If it really is a Grade 2 sprain, it still seems like quite a long shot.
One thing Stoutland made clear was that if it isn’t Johnson starting, it’ll be Big V and not Isaac Seumalo playing at right tackle. Seumalo has played well enough at tackle in a pinch that it’s probably worth at least thinking of going in that direction, but Stoutland said he isn’t thinking about that. He would rather not affect two spots on the line.
If Johnson is out for this game, Big V would start at right tackle and would play there unless something happened to Peters. Peters has struggled to get through games this season with plenty of injuries of his own. So if Johnson’s out and Peters leaves, Big V would slide to left tackle, Seumalo would go to right tackle and Stefen Wisniewski would go back to left guard.
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