He kept trying to come back and he kept getting hurt.
Finally, Lane Johnson said, “Enough.”
Johnson, the Eagles’ three-time Pro Bowl right tackle, said Friday morning he’s planning to undergo season-ending surgery to repair his long-injured left ankle.
Johnson announced the news to the Philadelphia media on a Zoom call. He said he faces a four- or five-month recovery, which would have him back for the start of next season if all goes well.
Johnson underwent surgery on the ankle in August and missed the opener before playing every snap against the Rams and Bengals. But he said he continued aggravating the injury as this season went on.
“It’s been difficult trying to play at a high level … but it’s part of the game,” he said. “It’s something I knew that I would struggle with throughout the year. It’s just something that hasn’t improved much.”
Since Week 4, Johnson has played every snap in just one game. He's missed two games entirely and missed significant snaps in four other games. He was also dealing with shoulder and knee injuries.
Johnson said the surgery hasn’t yet been scheduled but will repair the deltoid ligament in his left ankle.
“Essentially, (it’s) from all the high ankle sprains and damage I’ve had done to my ankle,” he said. “It’s like the inside of my ankle has collapsed so a lot of my power and push-off that I normally have isn’t there. Early in the year I had some difficulties like a stress fracture was forming from the tightrope surgery (in August), so that was kind of ongoing, so just more of the same. Been rolled up on a few times. At times I thought I was making progress but I’d get rolled up on and set back to where I am now.”
Johnson said he believes Matt Pryor will replace him at right tackle. Rookie Jack Driscoll, who started two games in place of Johnson earlier this year, is dealing with a knee injury.
A year ago this week, Johnson signed a four-year, $72 million contract extension that runs through 2025.
“You get paid a contract to play like one of the best tackles in the league,” he said. “You go out there and you can’t finish games and you’re not out there.”
Johnson, the fourth pick in the 2013 draft, has only played 16 games twice in his eight seasons. He served four- and 10-game suspensions in 2014 and 2016 for testing positive for banned supplements.
He turns 31 in May.
“As far as rehab, we’ve done everything we could,” he said. “There were times we were making a lot of good progress and in some games ended up getting rolled back up on again. So just something you really can’t control. It’s been frustrating and I just want to get back healthy, 100 percent and not think about it and just play ball, which is something that’s been difficult for me this year.”
This ankle injury actually dates back to the Eagles-Jaguars game in London in 2018. He aggravated it in a game against the Giants last year.
“Those two injuries kind of snowballed into this,” he said. “It’s been damaged for some time. Been trying to go through it as much as I could, but I kind of knew this was going to be a difficult process, trying to play. Football’s football, it is what it is. Things happen and that’s really where I’m at.”
The Eagles have already lost left tackle Andre Dillard for the season with a torn biceps and right guard Brandon Brooks with an Achilles, presumably for the season. Left guard Isaac Seumalo returned Sunday after missing five games after undergoing knee surgery.
The starting line the Eagles are expected to use on Monday – left to right, Jordan Mailata, Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Jason Peters and Matt Pryor – will be their 10th different starting offensive line in 11 games.
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