Lane Johnson didn't play against Dallas the first time the teams squared off this season on November 11. He remembers the pain – literally and then some.
"I just couldn't go. I tried," said Johnson, who suffered a knee injury in the game against Jacksonville in London two weeks earlier and missed the Cowboys' visit to Lincoln Financial Field. "It was an awful feeling not being out there with the guys playing the Cowboys. I felt terrible."
Johnson, coming off perhaps the best game of his season on Monday night against Washington and, particularly, Pro Bowl rush linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, will be in the lineup on Sunday afternoon in Arlington, Texas against Dallas. His knee injury, which forced him to miss only that Dallas game, is much better, thank you. An ankle injury, which he said goes "hand in hand" with his knee injury, is also good. In other words, Johnson is primed to suit up against a Dallas team (7-5) that holds a one-game lead over Philadelphia and Washington (both 6-6) in the NFC East.
Eagles at Cowboys, with the NFC East lead on the line in December. It doesn't get a whole lot better than this.
"It's historically special and this week is no different," Johnson said. "For me, coming from Texas, I know what football is down there, what it means. Really, it's just a privilege to play in these games, especially with what's on the line for this game. They've got a good team, they're on the up and up. We're finding our way, slowly but surely. It will be a good contest."
Johnson and the Eagles' offense have a big week in front of them preparing for a Dallas defense that is among the best in the NFL. Led by a fast, sideline-to-sideline group of linebackers playing behind an attacking defensive line, the Cowboys are coming off a stout, shutdown victory over New Orleans last Thursday. Johnson will likely see a lot of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who registered 14.5 quarterback sacks last season and has followed that career year up with 8.5 sacks in 2018.
"They have a great pass rush and DeMarcus Lawrence, as far as me personally, will probably be my biggest test of the year," Johnson said. "He's good and he brings a lot of energy to that defense. The linebacking corps is young and on the come and they run sideline to sideline and the secondary is good. They have picked it up as far as their intensity. They look like they're playing really good football.
"The Cowboys, it's always special. It never fades. This game, with so much at stake, it's huge and it's going to be a fun game to be a part of."