EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — For a 317-pound man with a high ankle sprain, Lane Johnson moved out of the visitor’s locker room of MetLife Stadium and down the hallway toward the team busses surprisingly quickly.
Johnson just limped his way through three quarters of the Eagles’ 34-13 win over the Giants (see 10 observations). It was an incredibly gutty performance from a guy who’s been criticized quite a bit since the 2018 season kicked off.
I just couldn’t let him get away. And, eventually, I caught up with Johnson in the bowels of the stadium to ask him how he felt.
I feel good. I think when people throw my name in the gutter, it just makes me better. So that’s all I got to say.
Then the Eagles’ right tackle limped the rest of the way to the bus for what was sure to be a fun ride home for the now first-place Eagles. He’ll have 10 days to let that ankle heal before the Eagles host the Panthers on Oct. 21.
Even with the win, the Eagles’ season hasn’t quite gone to plan. They’re 3-3 and clinging to a lead in the NFC East. For that matter, the season hasn’t gone to plan for Johnson either. He’s coming off an All-Pro year and had already given up a couple sacks before suffering the ankle injury last Sunday.
He had just a few days to get ready for this game and things looked bad earlier on Thursday. So bad, in fact, that the Eagles downgraded him to questionable and a report surfaced that said it would be an “uphill battle” for him to play.
But Johnson wasn’t missing this one.
“He got mad heart, man,” right guard Brandon Brooks said. “He’s a grinder, man. He loves the game. S---, I love seeing him out there, man. That’s my guy. He’s really a brother to me. That’s just a testament to the character of the guy he is.”
Johnson went down on the last play of the third quarter after limping his way through most of the three quarters that preceded that play. Eventually, he limped off the field and Stefen Wisniewski ran out as the fifth offensive lineman.
The teams flipped sides of the field and Johnson tried to sneak his way back on the field, but he had to sit out a play. With the Eagles up 31-13 at that point, he ended up sitting the rest of the game. But it was pretty clear he wanted to come back and it was pretty clear he would have had the game not been a blowout.
“We play offensive line, man,” Brooks said. “We’re expected to play through anything. Unless the leg’s coming off or the arm’s coming off, we’re going to try to be out there no matter what it is.”
Johnson embodied that on Thursday night and played a good game despite and injury that probably should have kept him out for at least this game. He wanted to play, he wanted to prove his doubters wrong.
He not only played Thursday’s game with a high ankle sprain, he also played with a chip on his shoulder.