Before the season has even begun, it's already apparent that the Eagles will not be able to repeat one of their measures of success from 2013. Last year, the Eagles' five starting offensive linemen each played in all 16 regular season games together, helping the team achieve historic offensive numbers in the process.
This year, with second-year right tackle Lane Johnson set to miss the first four games of the season because of an NFL suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing supplements, that streak of continuity will be broken.
"I've been better," Johnson said at the outset of his discussion with the media Friday as the team arrived officially at the NovaCare Complex ahead of Saturday's opening practice.
Johnson explained that he first received word of the pending suspension in May, at which time he immediately notified head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman. After his appeal was denied, Johnson found out only recently that he would indeed have to serve the full four-game suspension.
"That's the rule. I got what I deserved," Johnson said. "We have all the resources here (at the NovaCare Complex) … We have all the resources here to help you with any issues. It's something I'll know in the future to do next time."
While Johnson will be an active participant in Training Camp and the preseason, he will not be allowed in the team's facilities throughout the four-week suspension once the regular season begins.
"The toughest part about it is I'm not going to be out here to battle," Johnson said. "I was expecting to be able to come out here and have a good start in Week 1. That's something I can't do now. It's all my fault, I don't have anybody to blame but myself.
"The toughest part is going to be not being able to be around. I can't play, I can't practice. Trying to go find somewhere to train where I can stay in good football shape and be ready to go in Week 5."
Johnson added that he was looking forward to picking up where he left off at the tail end of his rookie season.
"I started to get very confident in what I was doing and getting a lot better than what I was (at the beginning of 2013)," Johnson said. "The biggest thing is coming in Week 5 and seeing how I do."
Kelly has not yet commented on how the team will replace Johnson in the starting lineup to begin the season. Allen Barbre was the team's top backup last season and has experience playing four of the five offensive line positions. Veteran tackles like Andrew Gardner and Dennis Kelly will also be in the mix, and Johnson expressed his confidence in his teammates to pick up his slack.
"I think Gardner's a great player, I think Kelly's a great player and Barbre, just watching him practice last year, I think he can be a dominant player when he plays," said Johnson. "He's a really great guy and I know I have a lot of teammates supporting me right now and I think the guys will fill my shoes very well."