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By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS)—Lane Johnson likes talking about football, especially amid these tense, trying times surrounding Eagles’ training camp.
So the Eagles’ first-round pick welcomed the thought and relief of discussing what the adjustment process has been like and how he’s progressing during training camp.
Johnson, out of Oklahoma, also spoke about moving around recently from right tackle, where he’s projected to start, to replacing left tackle Jason Peters, who’s left practice early the past few days after missing last year when he twice ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right leg.
Right now, in a perfect world, it would go left to right, Peters would be the left tackle, left guard Evan Mathis, center Jason Kelce, right guard Todd Herremans and Johnson at right tackle. An unhealthy Peters would make that untenable, forcing Chip Kelly to shuffle his front, moving Johnson from right tackle to left tackle, in place of Peters, and Dennis Kelly moving to right tackle.
“No, I really don’t have a preference left or right, even though I’ve usually played right [tackle so far through training camp], but if Jason Peters isn’t playing, I’ll have to fill the void left and get as many practice reps as I can,” Johnson said. “I do probably feel more comfortable at left [tackle], because I played left tackle last year [at Oklahoma].
“The more reps I get right, the more comfortable I get. I would just say that since I’m right handed, and I’m on the left side, my power hand is on the inside, I feel stronger there.”
Johnson seems to be a quick study. Talking to teammates and coaches, they say he’s a quick learner, a hard worker and growing through his rookie mistakes. Johnson himself says he’s getting there, and each day he’s absorbing more.
Kelly said he wants to get Johnson work at both tackle positions.
“The versatility that Lane brings us is the ability for a guy that can play both tackles and that’s rare,” Kelly said. “There are some guys that are legitimate right tackles and finding tackles in this league is very difficult. That’s one of the things that looking at him in the draft, here’s a guy that can do both.
“If we were going to play a game, we’re probably going to go with our best tackle combination. So, for us to do that, then Lane needs work at left tackle, and Todd needs work at right tackle. So, instead of saying in the Redskins game, hey, we’ve got to move Lane, but he’s never taken any snaps over there. We had planned all along at getting Lane work at right tackle and left tackle.”
Kelly better watch himself, though. Johnson has an amazing ability to do voice impressions of coaches and teammates. At Oklahoma, Johnson was caught on video—this one hilariously funny and not controversial—of the time he imitated Sooner coach Bobby Stoops. After great pestering by teammates, Johnson finally relented and did Stoops as Stoops was walking in behind him.
As for getting down Kelly’s rapid-fire syntax … “I’m still working on that,” Johnson admitted. “Sometimes I bring it up in front of some of my friends. It’s going to take some time to get him down pat.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.