PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s going to be a void to fill at right tackle with the four-game suspension of Lane Johnson and that seemed to be the most pressing matter when Chip Kelly spoke to the media on Saturday at the NovaCare Complex.
Allen Barbre will step in for Johnson, Kelly said, and the Eagles will move forward without their 2013 first-round draft choice through the first four games of the regular season. Johnson’s suspension does not begin until after the pre-season is over on August 29, the Eagles’ last pre-season game against the New York Jets.
This may stunt Johnson’s development as to how many first-team reps he gets during training camp.
“It will have an impact, obviously we have to get another guy ready,” Kelly admitted. “Allen Barbre will start out there. Obviously, we have to prepare for our first four games and we have to get the guy who’s the starting right tackle ready. It will have a big impact on where [Johnson] is, but we still have to develop Lane. He’ll get reps, but they won’t be with the first team right now.”
After pre-season, Johnson won’t be able to practice or work out with the team until Monday, September 29, when his four-game suspension is over for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, which the league announced Wednesday.
Kelly said every player in the NFL is aware that they’re going to get tested.
“I think we educate our players all of the time [on banned substances] and every player in the NFL knows that you’re going to get tested,” Kelly said. “There’s also some individual responsibility that goes with the player. If the answer is, ‘I didn’t know,’ they know. They get tested at the [NFL] Combine. There is a lot of responsibility. Sometimes the responsibility goes on the individual people.”
Johnson said he took a prescription drug in April—after the season. He said he knew the suspension was coming. He said the substance was prescription medication that he got through a family physician, and he admitted he made a mistake by not going through the Eagles’ trainers to see what was on the NFL’s list of banned substances.
In April, Eagles linebacker Jake Knott was suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the NFL’s policy on PEDs.
“I think the penalty with those guys [Johnson and Knott] and what happens to them is appropriate and if that doesn’t resonate with them, that’s their responsibility,” Kelly said. “Playing in this league is a privilege and if you can’t follow the rules of this league you’re not going to be here. From my understanding [after the last pre-season game], [Johnson] is not allowed to be here.”
“The ball is in [Johnson’s] court. We educate our guys on a daily basis. We don’t wait for someone to make a mistake and say ‘Look at this.’ There are signs all over our building about what you can take and what you can’t take, There’s a protocol on what you’re supposed. If there is ever a question, you’re responsible for what you put into your body. If you’re not sure, there’s people you should ask. That’s not what [Johnson] did and he’s paying a price for it.”
Barbre filled in well when Jason Peters was injured against Green Bay, playing 52 snaps. He has great feet, can get down field and is as good if not a better pass blocker than Johnson. His issues may come with run blocking, and anchoring on pass protection.
“Allen is an integral part to what we’re doing and we wanted to make sure we kept him here [with a new contract extension],” Kelly said. “We’ve seen Allen every day and we feel he’s a talented football player who would have been pushing all of those other guys if Lane wasn’t out.”
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