By and large, Philadelphia Eagles fans have high hopes entering Year 2 of the Chip Kelly program. Unfortunately, it’s not even quite July, and the club may have already been dealt its first blow of the season.
Paul Domowitch for the Daily News reports starting right tackle Lane Johnson has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Johnson will now miss the first four games of the regular season with a suspension.
Neither the team nor the league office has confirmed the report yet. Update: Tim McManus for Philly Mag and Jeff McLane for the Inquirer say NFL spokespersons have no information on a possible suspension at present time.
Taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Johnson progressed nicely during his rookie year, by the end of which he was more than holding his own. He’s a candidate to make a big jump in his second NFL season.
For the time being, journeyman Allen Barbre would be the likely replacement for Johnson at tackle. Barbre performed well in relief of Jason Peters on the left side when called upon in ‘13. The Eagles signed Barbre to a three-year extension earlier in June.
There’s little in the way of established depth behind Barbre, so the Birds better pray the rest of the unit stays healthy and in the league’s good graces. It might not be a bad idea to add another veteran into the mix over the summer.
At this stage, it’s unknown what specifically (if anything) Johnson tested positive for. It was noted during OTAs that the 24-year-old was gaining weight, although there’s nothing really unique or unusual about that.
The Eagles will meet the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, Washington and the San Francisco 49ers in Weeks 1-4.
While losing Johnson could turn out to be a huge blow, at least the team is certain of when he can return, as opposed to an injury. Speaking of which, you might want to get used to some key players missing a few games, as there’s almost no way last season’s injury luck will carry over into 2014.
Still, it’s especially disappointing to learn such a promising young player might miss time due to poor judgment.