Philadelphia Eagles' Jim Johnson Takes a Leave of Absence

Eric QuackenbushSenior Analyst IMay 18, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 21: Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson of the Philadelphia Eagles walks off the field during pre-game warmups before their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 21, 2008 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has taken an indefinite leave of absence because of a cancerous tumor on his spine.

"Jim and I agreed that he needs to concentrate all of his efforts on his recovery," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Monday. "His health is number one."

In 2001, Johnson was treated for melanoma. Following the Eagles' loss to the Cardinals, the team announced the cancer had returned.

"He's struggling," Reid said Monday. "But he's a tough guy and a true battler."

Johnson had recovered enough to to coach from a motorized scooter during the team's first post-draft minicamp earlier this month, but he wasn't sure if he could return to the field for the upcoming season.

"It's too early to tell," Johnson said on May 2. "I'm taking this one day at a time or one camp at a time. I'll just keep working at it, and as long as I can hold my work schedule, I'll feel fine, and we'll just see how it goes."

Reid said he hopes Johnson will be able to return to the team soon.

Johnson, known for his aggressive defensive style and blitzing defenses, played a significant role in the team's success over the last decade. The Eagles finished third in total defense and fourth in points allowed after advancing to the NFC Championship game for the fifth time in the last 10 seasons.

"I hope everyone will keep him in their thoughts and prayers during this period of time," Reid said.

Not to worry coach Reid, we will.