Doug Pederson is preparing to enter the season without starting right tackle Lane Johnson.
Reports surfaced Tuesday stating that Johnson is facing a 10-game suspension for being a second-time violator of the league's PED policy. He played in the Eagles' preseason-opening victory Thursday over the Buccaneers (see Instant Replay), but Pederson is going to begin trying out replacements in case his fourth-year lineman isn't eligible for the regular-season opener against Cleveland.
"It would be smart on my part to have a Plan B if that's the case," Pederson said.
"I'll visit with [offensive line coach Jeff] Stoutland this week, and we'll evaluate where we need to go from here. If that's the case, if it's upheld, then we've gotta be prepared to make some moves. Until it happens, we go full-steam. But the same time, we also know we've got to be smart about it to have people ready to go if it is upheld."
Johnson, who didn't speak to the media after the game (see story), first denied the reports Tuesday before admitting to FOXSports' Jay Glazer he'd taken an approved amino acid but tested positive for a peptide. He said he's fighting the ruling and the company that manufactured the product and is awaiting the results of the B sample.
Pederson isn't sure when a decision will be made — "I really don't know. It's out of our hands. It's out of my hands," he said — and admitted that he hasn't discussed the issue with Johnson.
"No, I haven't, to be quite honest. Until something further is decided, we're going full-steam ahead," he said.
"These guys are professionals. I talk to the team. When and if I talk to these guys individually, that's obviously a private matter. At the same time, they're grown men. I've got to treat them like grown men. If something like this happens, it is unfortunate, and sometimes you learn the hard way. We'll cross that bridge when the time comes."
If he does have to cross it, Pederson is confident he can replace Johnson with a player currently on the roster.
"We've got the bodies," he said. "We've got the guys that can definitely fill that role."
Pederson likely will begin rotating in other players at first-team right tackle when the team resumes practice Saturday — "We're still in training camp mode, and we've got time to figure this out," he said — and mentioned several options, including Matt Tobin, Dennis Kelly and Allen Barbre. But it's hard to imagine any reserve on the roster being as effective as Johnson, who first was suspended for a PED violation in 2014 under then-head coach Chip Kelly.
If Johnson is suspended a second time, he'll be one PED violation away from a two-year ban, and Pederson will be faced with his first major challenge as head coach.
"I'll be disappointed," Pederson said. "But at the same time, it's out of my hands. I've got to focus on the whole football team."