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Lane Johnson, seen here working out earlier in training camp, has been working at both left and right tackle with the Eagles. (AP)
Last year, the Eagles had offensive tackles that couldn’t play on either side.
Now they have a guy they believe can play both.
The Eagles, forced to use Demetress Bell and King Dunlap at left tackle after Jason Peters’ season-ending injury, are working rookie first-round pick Lane Johnson not just at right tackle, where he’s the projected opening-day starter, but also at left tackle.
It’s the likely contingency plan in case Jason Peters goes down again.
Peters missed all of last year following two Achilles surgeries and has been battling a hamstring injury over the past week and hasn’t gotten through a full practice since last Tuesday.
Just the fact that the Eagles are working Johnson on both sides tells you how much they like him.
“I think it’s a good sign,” Johnson said after practice at the Linc Monday. “There’s not many people that can play both, and the more practice I get at left will help me if something happens with Jason.
“It’s big. They want me to be prepared in case Peters goes down. To know they have somebody they can count on.”
Left tackle was a disaster last year, with Bell and Dunlap going back and forth in the lineup and both struggling badly. Both are long gone.
On Monday, Allen Barbre got most of the left tackle reps with the first team just so Johnson could work at right tackle.
If Peters did get hurt in a game, the Eagles would either move Dennis Kelly to right tackle and Johnson to left tackle or swing Todd Herremans from right guard to right tackle and use Danny Watkins at right guard.
“I think the more versatile a player you are the more valuable you are to a team,” Johnson said.
Overall, it’s been a good start for Johnson, but the next few days will be good ones for him.
There’s the preseason opener against the Patriots Friday night at the Linc, but first there are workouts Tuesday through Thursday against the Patriots and veteran defensive ends like Rob Ninkovich, who had eight sacks last year, and Chandler Jones, who had six last year as a rookie.
“I think it’s going to be a good look for us, see where our offense stands as far as how we’re looking up front,” Johnson said. “I think it’ll give us an early sign of how good we are.”
Running back LeSean McCoy left practice early with a sore knee, and center Jason Kelce left with an ankle. Neither injury is considered serious and both starters are listed as day to day.
All the other backs got work with the first offense, but Bryce Brown appeared to get most of them. It looked like Julian Vandervelde got all the work with the starting group at center ahead of Dallas Reynolds.
Peters missed practice with a hamstring injury. He initially got hurt last Wednesday and tried to practice Sunday, but didn’t get through the session.
Receiver David Ball (quad, hand), defensive tackle Antonio Dixon (hamstring) and offensive linemen Dennis Kelly, Jason Peters (hamstring) and Ed Wang (knee) all sat out practice.
Running back Matthew Tucker (hamstring) and tight end Zach Ertz (shoulder) returned to practice after sitting on Sunday.
Play of the day
During 11-on-11s, Michael Vick spun a perfect lob over corner Eddie Whitley’s head right to DeSean Jackson, streaking down the right sideline for a touchdown.
One play earlier, Whitley had knocked a ball away from Jackson. The two battled for much of the practice, with Whitley holding his own and making some nice breakups. He had one interception in his hands on a Vick pass but dropped it.
The Eagles begin three days of practices with the Patriots on Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex.
The workouts are closed to most fans, open only to a handful of randomly selected season-ticket holders.
The Eagles return to the Linc Sunday for the third of five open practices.
Most of the free tickets have been distributed, but a handful are still available at Ticketmaster.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.
Tickets also remain for the open practices at the Linc on Aug. 17 and Aug. 26.