Updates from Friday, July 25
NJ.com's Eliot Shorr-Parks has updates on Johnson's status:
Lane says he finds out about his suspension in mid-May and told Chip/Howie right away. #Eagles— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) July 25, 2014
Lane says he did appeal the suspension #Eagles— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) July 25, 2014
Lane says he took prescription drug during April, found out in May. "I got what I deserved. I have to be aware of what goes into my body"— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) July 25, 2014
Johnson says the drug came from a family doctor #Eagles— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) July 25, 2014
NJ.com's Matt Lombardo had more from Johnson:
"It's just something I've gotta deal with for four weeks and the toughest part is going to be not being able to be around here.
"I can't play, I can't practice, so I'm trying to find somewhere that I can train so I can come back and play well in week-five."
Updates from Wednesday, July 23
Johnson addressed the news in a statement on the team website:
Johnson said the following: "In April while training, I mistakenly and foolishly put a prescribed medication in my body to help with a medical issue. I mistakenly failed to clear it with Eagles trainers and check the NFL list of banned substances. I am extremely sorry for this mistake and I will learn from it and be smarter in the future.
"I would like to sincerely apologize to Mr. Lurie, Howie Roseman, Coach Kelly and his staff, my teammates and our amazing Philadelphia Eagles fans. This will be very hard on me to not be battling with my teammates for four games - but I will be ready and better than ever when I return."
Lane Johnson, an offensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles who was selected No. 4 overall in the 2013 NFL draft, has reportedly tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and faces a four-game suspension to start the season.
Paul Domowitch of Philly.com reported the news on Johnson's positive test:
League sources tell me Eagles starting RT Lane Johnson has tested positive for PEDs and will miss first 4 games.— Paul Domowitch (@pdomo) June 30, 2014
Albert Breer of NFL Network later confirmed the report:
Eagles RT Lane Johnson is expected to serve a 4-game suspension (@pdomo 1st reported), though the NFL hasn't issued final word yet.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) June 30, 2014
Following the report, the NFL decided not to comment on the situation, per Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com:
No comment from league spokesman on Lane Johnson report.— gregg rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) June 30, 2014
Tim McManus of 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia continued:
Re: Lane Johnson: NFL spokesperson says that no suspension has been handed down from league.— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) June 30, 2014
Much of the Eagles' success last season was due to stellar quarterback play from Nick Foles. Johnson, in just his first year on the line, helped protect his young signal-caller and opened gaps for star running back LeSean McCoy to cut through in all 16 regular-season games, all of which he started.
In fact, he was coming into the 2014 season with hopes of improving, as he told Sheil Kapadia of PhillyMag.com.
"I'm trying to be a dominant player," Johnson said. "I know I have the ability. It's just a matter of being consistent with it because there's times where I showed flashes of being a really good player, and then there's other times where I didn't. So I'm just trying to be more consistent this year."
Despite having youth on the line with Johnson, the Eagles found consistency up front for Foles and McCoy. Bill Barnwell of Grantland provides a statistic from last year for Philadelphia:
Eagles got 80 starts from their five Day 1 OL starters last year. Huge part of their improvement. Johnson suspension rules that out for 2014— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) June 30, 2014
As for a replacement for Johnson during the four-game stretch if he's indeed suspended, Aaron Nagler of Bleacher Report passes along a possible player to look for:
The Eagles brought back Allen Barbre this offseason. He'll most likely get the call if Johnson is indeed out the first 4 games.— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) June 30, 2014
Both Allen Barbre and Breno Giacomini went from looking lost as Packers rejects to being competent players elsewhere.— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) June 30, 2014
Can the Eagles still win the NFC East if Johnson is suspended four games?
Following a season in which the Eagles won the NFC East at 10-6 and returned to the postseason, Johnson's potential suspension could mean a step back for the team to start the upcoming campaign. During that stretch, the Eagles play the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers along with the division rival Washington Redskins.
Johnson's possible absence could loom large for an emerging star such as Foles, who may not have as much time in the pocket to find his targets down the field and avoid pressure off the edge.
If Johnson is suspended, the trickle-down effect might be huge for a franchise looking for consistency. In a division in which any team might step up and win it all, the Eagles need all cylinders firing to make another run in the NFC East.
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