Less than 10 hours before kickoff and the Eagles are already re-shuffling their patchwork offensive line. Philadelphia downgraded Lane Johnson to “questionable” for Sunday night’s matchup versus Dallas. The All-Pro right tackle has been dealing with two injuries — high left ankle sprain, plus a Grade 1 MCL knee sprain — as Johnson has been unable to stay in and finish games.
The 30-year-old was a full participant in Friday’s practice after being limited on Thursday and sitting out on Wednesday. The Eagles would likely start Jordan Mailata at right tackle if Johnson can’t go against the Cowboys. The former Aussie rugby star has been cross-training all week at both right tackle and left tackle. Jason Peters’ return has relegated Mailata to reserve status, a 6-foot-8, 346-pound hulking “ball of clay.” Rookie tackle Jack Driscoll remains out with his own ankle injury.
“I love where Jordan’s at,” Pederson told reporters on Friday. “I love where his growth is, right? But at the same time, sometimes if Jason Peters starts at left tackle, it allows Jordan to see big picture, as well, and kind of step back and observe that way and sometimes that helps young players, too. But whatever the decision is there at left tackle and really the whole offensive line, these guys are prepared, they are excited, and they are ready to go. We are playing a really good front and it’s going to take all those guys to put up a good performance.”
UPDATE: Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reports Johnson is out for Sunday after his knee “swelled up when he woke up this AM.” Mailata is expected to start against the Cowboys.
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Johnson Dealing with Two Different ‘Minor’ Injuries
Johnson discussed his recovery from “tightrope surgery” on his left ankle last month and admitted he wouldn’t be 100% healthy. It’s going to be a lingering injury all year for him, according to Pederson, and the Eagles have been forced to play wait and see every week.
Johnson sat out Week 1 and Week 6 while sitting out series in all but one game so far this year. He has played 296 total offensive snaps in 2020, although only remained in for 100% of the snaps once (Week 3, versus Cincinnati).
“Listen, it’s going to linger,” Pederson said on Oct. 5. “We’re to that point where everybody’s body is sore and the injuries that we have, they are going to continue. You’re not going to get 100 percent healthy, there’s no way. We just don’t have time to get everybody 100 percent.”
Then, Johnson suffered a Grade 1 MCL knee sprain last week versus New York and the new injury (deemed minor, per NBC10’s John Clark) limited him at practice this week. Pederson denied either ailment was more significant than the other one: “Not really, no.” It’s just another issue for arguably the most banged-up offensive line in football.
“If we can just hang on here and keep things together, keep battling, keep fighting the way the guys have,” Pederson said, “and we know we’ve got around the corner, we have some of our starters that are coming back, and that’s exciting looking forward.”
Eagles Starting Offensive Line for Sunday
The Eagles may be shifting people around again with Johnson potentially out for Sunday night’s game. That means a likely starting offensive line consisting of Jason Peters at left tackle, Nate Herbig at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Matt Pryor at right guard, Jordan Mailata at right tackle. The team is down to just one starter (Kelce) from the original projected offensive line coming out of training camp.
“I haven’t really been a part of something like this drastic like this in my career, but you are always trying to overcome this stuff,” Kelce said. “You are always game planning, and coaching, and trying to get guys ready for whoever is going to be there on game day. At the end of the day, in this league, that is all that matters. You can’t make excuses.”
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