Lane Johnson took the fast track from failed junior college quarterback to prized offensive tackle chosen fourth overall in last month’s NFL draft.
But the Eagles’ first-round pick isn’t trying to rush his path to starting, or even officially signing with his new team.
Johnson, the former Oklahoma left tackle, and his fellow rookies and auditioners practiced together Friday for the first time as the Eagles kick-started their rookie minicamp. Johnson said the pace of Chip Kelly’s practice came as fast as advertised.
But he also put the brakes on any discussions about starting on the offensive line or having his contract worked out soon.
“I still have to come in, work every day and do my best,” Johnson said when asked if he expected to start from Day 1. “If I do that then good things will happen. But I really don’t know what’s going to happen.”
He took the same stance on his contract, even though No. 5 pick Ziggy Ansah, a defensive end from BYU who was selected one spot behind him, had already signed a four-year deal with the Lions earlier in the day.
“Just whenever it happens, it happens,” he said. “I’m not really rushing it. I’m just trying to get through minicamp right now.”
Ansah’s signing has done nothing to expedite the process for the Eagles and Johnson. No deal between the two sides is imminent, according to a league source, but that shouldn’t be interpreted as a bad sign. Ansah and Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro were the only two first-rounders signed by early Friday evening.
“That’s probably the next step,” Johnson said. “Just get through this minicamp and get more time to focus on that. It’s an important part of the process.”
Johnson discovered that he’s in “decent shape,” but “could be in better shape” after racing through his first Kelly practice. He’s looking forward to Monday, when veterans come for the first full-team voluntary organized team activity.
Only when the veterans practice can Johnson truly see how he measures up against NFL competition.
“Minicamp is minicamp. A bunch of people are here for tryouts,” he said. “But I’m ready for Monday. Just get these next two days over with, and then get to meet some of the veterans and talk to them and learn as much as I can. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Asked if he’s given much thought to protecting left-handed quarterback Michael Vick’s blind side in just a few months, Johnson said he’s “thought about it,” but cautioned about peering too far into the future.
“I just kind of go with the flow right now,” he said. “You can’t get too far ahead of yourself because if you do, you get caught up and you can’t really control it.”