Matt Rourke/Associated Press
Lane Johnson experienced his share of welcome-to-the-NFL moments in 2013. As the season wore on, though, it was easy to forget the Eagles were going with a rookie right tackle, a credit to Johnson’s gradual improvement.
Now, as Johnson prepares for his second campaign, the previous year's fourth overall pick is feeling confident in his ability to do the job.
"This is the first year I've been able to play the same position for consecutive years, so playing back-to-back [years] at right tackle will be good for me," said Johnson, per Matt Allibone for CSNPhilly.com. "In the pass set, I feel a lot more comfortable on the right side than I did last year."
Johnson isn't the only one confident in his abilities. His head coach, Chip Kelly, sees the difference as well, per Allibone.
"He's not a first-year player now and he’s not relying on Todd Herremans to make the calls for him," Kelly said. "Last year, Lane made decisions by saying, 'Todd, tell me what to do,' and then executing it. Now he knows what to do and is communicating a little better with those guys."
Johnson was a plus run-blocker from the moment he arrived in Philadelphia, helping pave the way for LeSean McCoy's first rushing championship. It was in pass protection where Johnson's flaws became clearly visible.
However, game-charting numbers by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) reflect Johnson's progress in that department during the second half of the season. Through the first eight games, the right tackled was charged with seven sacks and 29 hurries. The rest of the way, he limited the damage to four sacks and 12 hurries—playoffs included.
Clearly, Johnson and the Eagles coaching staff believe the right tackle will be able to pick up where he left off in '13. The hope is that his development only continues and Johnson turns into a dominant force on the offensive line by season's end.