When Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle reported for the team's training camp on Friday afternoon, he knew he would draw a lot of attention due to his recently confirmed four game suspension. Johnson was first asked how he was doing and responded with a smile "I've been better."
Johnson went on to accept responsibility and express disappointment in letting down not only the Eagles organization and his teammates but the fans as well. "This sucks," he stated bluntly.
Johnson told reporters he spoke with Chip Kelly on Friday morning at the facility and Kelly advised him not to speak about the details of his suspension. Johnson heeded his coach's advice; he wouldn't reveal the exact substance for what he was banned for. In an official statement from Johnson released by the team earlier this week, the Eagles offensive lineman noted he "mistakenly and foolishly put a prescribed medication in [his] body to help with a medical issue."
Johnson admitted he used the substance, which was prescribed by a family doctor, in April and he knew of the impending suspension around mid-May. He made Kelly aware as well as Eagles GM Howie Roseman in case the team wanted to make any corresponding roster moves. Johnson also confirmed he did appeal his suspension and that's why it took over three weeks for an official confirmation to take place after the original report in late June.
Eagles linebacker Jake Knott is the other Eagles player who received a four game suspension this offseason. The fact that two second year players were suspended in the same offseason certainly raised eyebrows, but Johnson stated that these suspensions are not a team problem.
"No, it's not that. I mean, we have... There's a list of like 100, 200 banned substances that you can't take. They're all over the building," Johnson explained. "Just something I think athletes kind of get carried away with a little bit. Obviously supplements like that aren't FDA regulated so it's real easy to maybe take something you're not aware of. But that's no excuse. In our meetings they tell us all the time to talk to our trainers, and that's something I didn't do."
Johnson's suspension will start on August 29th, the day after the final preseason game. He won't be able to return to the Eagles facility in any fashion under September 29th. As for what he will do during his suspension? He's not sure yet.
"I really don't know," Johnson said. "That's the thing I'm going to figure out coming closer to Week 1. So I can go and try to keep in football shape at least. Try to do some one on ones with somebody or something like that. That's going to be the toughest part. Not being around here, playing. It's just hard to come to play in a game when you're not on the field in practice."
Johnson also doesn't know how the first team right tackle repetitions will play out over the summer but he expects to learn that shortly as training camp only begins tomorrow on Saturday.