After two days of practice, testing out an ankle that required surgery just a few weeks ago, tackle Lane Johnson says he is on track to make his 2020 Eagles debut on Sunday against Los Angeles and the Rams' powerful front led by tackle Aaron Donald, who was called “a monster” by quarterback Carson Wentz earlier in the week.
"I'm ready to play some ball," Johnson said.
We know the troubles the Eagles had last week at Washington – the 8 sacks, the three giveaways, the lack of a running game, and constant pressure on Wentz. It was a full team effort and, surely, all of the blame is not to be placed on the lap of the offensive line, one that saw right guard Nate Herbig and right tackle Jack Driscoll start their first NFL games. It was, however, a shocking turnaround after the Eagles took a 17-0 advantage in the second quarter, only to be blanked the rest of the way.
Having Johnson back in the lineup – and, it appears barring any setback, running back Miles Sanders – boosts an Eagles offense that wants to put together a 60-minute effort. Wentz needs a pocket and the Eagles need balance and none of that can be achieved without the offensive line being a whole lot better than it was on Sunday.
The game's best right tackle, Johnson has been battling a high ankle sprain since the Jacksonville game in 2018 – in London, during which he also suffered a sprained MCL in his knee – and last season Johnson said "it felt unstable," but he played through the injury. The injury flared up on him when the Eagles had their first intrasquad scrimmage in Training Camp and he underwent "tightrope" surgery to strengthen the ligament that attaches to the ankle.
Since that time, Johnson has been rehabbing and making sure he got back to the lineup as quickly as possible.
"When you have this surgery, it tightens those two bones together so you can have stability and all you have to do is gain back your strength," Johnson said. "It's getting a lot stronger. Last week, when I tried to ramp up on it, the swelling would get bad and I would have to deal with that, but now it's starting to feel good.
"Going into this week, I'm just fired up to play and fired up to be around my guys. I'm just glad to be out there on the field. That's my main focus, and getting a win. That's really it."
The Eagles are 56-36 with Johnson on the field and they're 9-12 without him. He's missed time through the years because of two NFL suspensions for violating the league's substance abuse policy, and he battled injuries last season. He is a high-quality player, the best in the NFL at right tackle is the general consensus, and his athleticism gives the Eagles so many more options in the offense.
Having him back will certainly make a difference. Johnson watched last week's game from the sidelines at FedEx Field and, just like all of us, agonized at the way the game turned in Washington's favor. The goal on Sunday is to put 60 minutes of Eagles football on display.
"We've got to click better. There is really no excuse," Johnson said. "All the wrongs we did Sunday, we can make up for this Sunday. That's really it. There are a lot of positives there with the game (from Washington) and as far as all the sacks, it's not executing, it's not picking up blitzes correctly, and so on and so forth."
Having Johnson at right tackle will make a world of difference. He's on the right track, with just a couple of days to go before Week 2's kickoff.