Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson, who is expected to be suspended 10 games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, says he will appeal the suspension when it is finally handed out, as Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com writes. Johnson has previously indicated that he took a league-approved amino acid but tested positive for peptide. In addition to fighting the suspension, he has also said that he will take action against the manufacturer of the substance.
As Shorr-Parks reports, the league is expected to levy the suspension sometime around the start of Week 1. That time frame, along with Johnson’s plan to appeal the suspension, could create some difficult decisions for first-year head coach Doug Pederson. Since news of Johnson’s failed test was made public, the Eagles have been practicing with Johnson on the second-string offense, not with the starters, and in the team’s preseason contest against Pittsburgh on Thursday night, Johnson played with the backups while Allen Barbre started at tackle.
But if Johnson is eligible to play the first week or two of the regular season, either because the suspension has not yet been handed down or because it has been levied and Johnson has appealed it, will Pederson keep him in the lineup? Or will he preemptively replace Johnson in an effort to begin creating continuity among the group of linemen that will be playing together in Johnson’s absence? Those are questions that should be answered in the next couple of weeks.
Losing Johnson for any period of time, of course, would be a major blow to the Eagles. He has started in each of his 44 career appearances, and Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked the 6-foot-6, 317-pounder 22nd among 77 qualified tackles in overall performance last season. In January, Philadelphia rewarded him with a hefty extension through 2021.
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