PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS)— He may be the world’s largest invisible man—but it’s a role Lane Johnson will have to reluctantly accept after the Eagles’ final preseason game against the New York Jets this Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Next Monday, the Eagles’ 2013 first-round draft pick begins serving as four-game suspension for taking a prescription drug that violated the NFL’s banned-substance policy.
The time off may force Johnson and the Eagles into easing him back slowly into his starting right tackle spot, possibly forcing the 6-foot-6, 320-pound fourth overall pick to miss more than four games.
It’s an option Johnson is trying to prevent during his time off.
“I think my strength will be all right, but trying to stay in football shape is going to be toughest,” Johnson said. “The only way you can stay in football shape is to play football. Not being able to do that will be tough. Other than that, I’ll jump right in the first two games will be tough.”
Johnson will be allowed to speak with teammates during his sabbatical, but he is not permitted to come into the NovaCare Complex during his suspension. Johnson said he’ll try to coordinate some time with Todd Herremans to find out what he’s missed in practice and if coach Chip Kelly has added anything new to the offense.
Keeping constant communication, Johnson stressed, will be a priority throughout this process. His goal is to be better than he was last year, when he started all 16 games and played quite well.
“I have my iPad and I still think I’m allowed to watch practice,” Johnson said. “I think everything begins on Monday and this week is critical for me, and it’s why this game [with the Jets] is big. It’s why I was out there trying to run with [LeSean] Shady McCoy.
“This isn’t anything really new. I sat my first two years at Oklahoma not playing any football. It’s going to be hard to watch, me not being out there. I’m trying to make the most of it and come back strong. Missing the first couple of games will be hard because you’re used to a rhythm in how you do things.”
Johnson said the timing of the final preseason game holds great importance to Johnson. He’s hoping he’ll be able to play the whole game in building his endurance.
“I want to be able to execute both halves, instead of one or two quarters [against the Jets],” said Johnson, who has been working with the twos during training camp while Allen Barbre holds down his spot as the starting right tackle. “I think I’ve been playing pretty well and where I want to be [towards improving]. It’s hard to be in football shape when you’re not playing. It’s going to be tough not being around and having a break in that routine. But I’m not that far away to stay in contact with the guys.”
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