Lane Johnson is one of the best right tackles in football. No one questions his ability, or his toughness, but maybe it’s time to question the Eagles’ methods of care for him.
The status of the All-Pro, who is dealing with ankle and knee injuries, was brought up today at Doug Pederson’s Wednesday media availability. Pederson was asked about possibly playing Johnson against the Cowboys Sunday night, versus giving him time to heal with a bye week coming up.
“I'll let you take that up with Lane because that guy doesn't want to come off the field,” Pederson said. “You know he's tough… We have to be smart obviously as a medical staff and as coaches to not put a player in harm's way. If Lane feels comfortable in playing and getting out there then listen, I'm not going to be the one that stands in his way.”
That’s exactly what you need to do, Doug. Stand in his way. Lock him in the dressing room. Take his helmet. Do whatever you have to do to keep him off the field.
While having a healthy Lane would be a big boost for the offensive line, it’s been quite a while since he’s been remotely healthy.
Johnson missed the last four games in 2019 and the Eagles’ wild card loss to Seattle with a high ankle sprain. He missed a chunk of training camp after having surgery on the same ankle in August, a procedure called a “clean-out” by ESPN’s Tim McManus.
The ankle kept him out for the season opener against Washington. Then in Week 4, he left the game after aggravating the injury against the 49ers. He tried to play the following week against Pittsburgh and was carted off the field. After sitting out Week 6, he tried to gut it out last Thursday against the Giants, only to suffer a left knee injury in the opening minutes. True to form, he returned to the game.
In 2018, Johnson had a left high ankle sprain and played through it. That led to a left MCL sprain weeks later. It’s possible these injuries are having a cumulative effect on the 30-year-old, who is signed through the 2025 season.
If this team has designs on winning the division and competing in January, they’ll need as many healthy bodies as possible. If they can’t beat the reeling Cowboys Sunday night without Johnson’s help, they won’t have to worry about playing in January anyway.