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Lane Johnson: On Field, Better Than Ever

Posted Oct 3, 2017

This is something Lane Johnson thinks about "every day." He doesn’t need to be reminded that a 10-game suspension started after four games played in 2016, and he doesn’t have to go through all the ways his absence hurt his team, and he certainly doesn’t require any perspective on the negative impact of his loss ...

This is something Lane Johnson thinks about "every day." He doesn’t need to be reminded that a 10-game suspension started after four games played in 2016, and he doesn’t have to go through all the ways his absence hurt his team, and he certainly doesn’t require any perspective on the negative impact of his loss.

He knows. He knows. He knows.

“Every time I come in here (NovaCare Complex) I think about all the games I missed and (how) I let my teammates down," Johnson said on Tuesday. "I try to give it back when I’m on the field. I just try to give it back to them every time I can.

“I think I help this team out. Not trying to be arrogant but I think when I’m in there I help this team out on the field, off the field. I like this group of guys. I see them as my brothers, guys that I enjoy being around and being friends with.”

There is no suspension looming for Johnson in 2017. Johnson has already faced a terrific list of pass rushers – Ryan Kerrigan in Washington, Justin Houston in Kansas City, Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants, and Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram in Los Angeles. Arizona’s Markus Golden won’t play on Sunday as he suffered a knee injury last week and is done for the season, but Johnson knows the Cardinals will present a great challenge, no matter who he faces.

Johnson is playing with a lot of confidence, as the entire offensive line. The Eagles are controlling the clock, winning in the ground game, and keeping giveaways to a minimum.

At 3-1, the Eagles sit alone atop the NFC East.

“I’m just excited to be here,” Johnson said. “Last year weighs on my mind all the time so every time I’m on the field I try to go and play my best. I feel we’re in a good situation. Everything is right in front of us. We have a good team and I think we’re improving each week. We’re right where we need to be.”

Johnson has twice been suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Another strike and he’s gone for two years. It won’t happen, Johnson insists. He is better from the experiences, no matter how painful they have been. He won’t forget his mistakes.

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“I think it made me mentally tougher,” Johnson said. “I know what everybody thinks of me when I go in the games. I hear chatter. It gives me extra motivation to go out there and play even harder and prove myself. It’s only Week 5, so we still have a long season ahead. I’m just trying to progress and keep getting better and better each week.”

What kind of chatter? Johnson hears it from players, even a former teammate like Chargers defensive tackle Damion Square, who called out to Johnson, “What’s up, ‘roid boy?” as Square was working out prior to Sunday’s game.

“When we got on the field, we settled it,” Johnson said, knowing that Square was “joking and having fun, but it was still the kind of stuff that will kind of make you mad.”

Johnson can control his present and his future. The past is the past.

“It all comes down to how you’re playing on the field,” said Johnson, who says he feels he is “playing stronger” as he maintains his weight between 320 and 325 pounds.

So Johnson is off to a good start, and the line has settled in and the running game is humming and the hits quarterback Carson Wentz have taken in the last couple of weeks have dropped. These are promising times for the Eagles and for Johnson.

The weight of the world from 12 months ago is gone. Johnson can just go out and play football now.

“I’m just trying to go out every week,” Johnson said, “and prove my worth.”

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