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Will Johnson Stay In His Lane At Right Tackle?

Posted Oct 25, 2017

With “The Bodyguard” Jason Peters sidelined for the remainder of the season, the coaching staff must decide whether right tackle Lane Johnson or backup tackle Halapoulavaati Vaitai will take over Peters’ left tackle duties.

Offensive coordinator Frank Reich recognized Peters as a rare player who comes around once in a generation. In all of Reich’s 30 years in football, Peters ranks as the best tackle he’s ever been around.

Seismic shoes to fill, to say the least.

The Eagles have strung together a 10-2 record in games in which Johnson has lined up on the right side of quarterback Carson Wentz. So there is a strong case to be made for keeping Johnson where he is.

Just how much of an idea does Johnson have on whether he’ll be switching sides?

“Zero,” Johnson told the group of reporters standing by his locker early Wednesday afternoon.

Johnson had yet to meet with the coaching staff to discuss the matter and then provided some perspective of his own.

“When you’re right-handed your whole life you don’t write with your left hand,” he said.

In the 56 career games, Johnson has started all but two games at right tackle. The fifth-year veteran is not opposed to moving to left tackle for the betterment of the team but on the right side is where his comfortability lies.

“It’s what I’ve been playing all year but whatever they need me to do I’ll do," he said. "I think I’m better on the right for now. I haven’t had any reps over there, not to say I can’t do it, but if it falls on me I’ll play there.”

The other option, Big V, enjoyed his fair share of reps at right tackle as well. Vaitai started six games last season at right tackle when Johnson was out and filled in again for Johnson against Carolina. But when Peters went down Monday night, it was Vaitai who came off the sideline to man the left tackle post. The Eagles scored a touchdown on that very same drive demoralizing the Redskins and giving confidence to Vaitai.

“He played well. He's a guy that just has to trust his ability, trust his fundamentals (and) trust his coaching,” head coach Doug Pederson said after the win over Washington. “He does get reps during the week on both sides, even though (he was on) the right side a week ago with Lane's absence.”

Backing up Johnson and Big V as a swing tackle in the immediate term will likely be Isaac Seumalo. The second-year lineman was supplanted from the starting left guard position earlier in the year but flaunts versatility that will come in handy given Peters’ loss.

Last season, Seumalo made starts two starts at right guard, one at left guard, and one at right tackle. Pederson confirmed earlier in the week Seumalo will be a part of the picture at the tackle spot.

“I’m very confident with Isaac being the swing tackle,” said Reich on Wednesday afternoon. “His attributes - that he has the quickness, that he has the footwork, that he has you could almost say he has some natural tendencies to play the tackle position.”

What’s clear is that the Eagles are looking in-house to replace Peters for the remainder of the season. What’s unclear is whether it will be Johnson or Vaitai.

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