As “ifs” go, this is a big one.
For the past few weeks, the Eagles have been preparing as though they will be without Lane Johnson for the first 10 games of the season. That’s because the right tackle supposedly has been dinged for his second failed PED test, and a suspension is on the way.
Yet for some unknown reason, the NFL has not handed down the ban. Johnson is expecting it. The Eagles are expecting it. The fact it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it will not, but as the regular season draws nearer, the team has to prepare for the possibility the fourth-year veteran will be allowed to play.
If somehow that turns out to be the case, head coach Doug Pederson informed reporters of his no-brainer decision — Johnson will start.
“Great question, and this is something that we wrestle with every day,” Pederson said Tuesday. “The conversations are such that we’ve got to have … a plan ready to go. I’ll tell you this: If he’s ready to go, then he’s our guy.”
That’s what makes sense. The Eagles are a much better offense with Johnson at right tackle. Not only is the fourth-overall draft pick from 2013 developing into an excellent, well-rounded lineman, but having him out of the lineup causes a much larger shakeup. Starting left guard Allen Barbre shifts to right tackle, and either veteran Stefan Wisniewski or third-round rookie Isaac Seumalo replaces Barbre.
But the Eagles aren’t getting their hopes up. The word from the NFL could come at any time.