Last Monday, Lane Johnson called Brandon Brooks to ask his buddy if he wanted some water ice and that was when Brooks told him he tore his Achilles.
“I thought he was joking,” Johnson said to Fran Duffy on the Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast.
Brooks will miss the entire 2020 season, leaving Lane Johnson with a new right guard next to him whenever the season begins. For now, the frontrunner appears to be third-year offensive lineman Matt Pryor.
This offseason, Pryor spent some time working out with Johnson.
He’s definitely taking it a lot more seriously,” Johnson said. “I think [Pryor] knows his role; he could be a starter. When he got to play last year, he did very well in games. Really, when you look at him, he’s 6-8. I always joke with him, call him Treebeard from Lord of the Rings, the walking trees, that’s just how big this guy is, that’s how much room he takes up, how massive he is.
“I think once he gets a few games under his belt, gets some confidence going, then he’ll go to the next level.
Pryor (6-7, 332) was a sixth-round pick out of TCU back in 2018. During his two years with the Eagles, he has become more of a guard than a tackle despite his height. There’s obviously some potential there, but Pryor hasn’t played much at all in the NFL.
While Pryor made his first NFL start last January in the playoffs against the Seahawks because of Brooks’ shoulder injury, Lane Johnson missed that game too with an injury of his own. So if Pryor is the Eagles’ choice to play right guard this year, training camp will be the first time we see a RG-RT combo of Pryor and Johnson.
Johnson, a three-time Pro Bowler, likes the potential he sees in Pryor.
“He’s so big and when he lands his hands, he’s got very strong hands, he can do a lot of damage,” Johnson said. “As far as the skillset, it’s there. It’s just getting experience and staying consistent, just like everything else.”
No matter who plays right guard in 2020 — if it’s Matt Pryor, Nate Herbig, Jack Driscoll or someone who isn’t on the roster — the Eagles are still going to miss Brooks, who was arguably the best offensive lineman in the NFL last season.
But the good news for the right guard is that he’ll be playing between Jason Kelce and Johnson, who are widely considered to be the best center and right tackle in the NFL.
Johnson is ready to play with whoever in 2020, but he’s also ready for Brooks to return in 2021.
“He’s just a big bear, man,” Johnson said. “You’re not going to hurt him. You might get him down, but he’s coming back. I think he’ll make a full recovery and come back and be even better.”
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