Doug Pederson faced something of an unusual situation as he stood at the podium following the Eagles' 17-9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night. After a few questions about the game itself, Pederson was asked about the bigger issue looming large over the team right now: the potential suspension of Lane Johnson. The Eagles' right tackle is reportedly could miss the first 10 games of the 2016 NFL season.
"You’ve always got to be mindful of that," said Pederson when asked if he's preparing for a suspension. "Obviously, in the back of your mind. It’s something that I’ll visit with [Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] this week and we’ll evaluate where we need to go from here. If that’s the case, if it’s upheld, then we’ve got to be prepared to make some moves."
"Until it happens, we go full steam. At the same time, we know we have to be smart about it, to be ready to have people to go if if it is upheld."
Pederson said he doesn't know exactly when he'll find out if Johnson is suspended or not. But it sure does seem like he's preparing the possibility.
"I have to anticipate there’s a chance, yes," he said. "It would be smart on my part to have a Plan B if that’s the case."
The Eagles didn't do anything out of the ordinary with the right tackle rotation on Thursday night. Johnson started the game and played for a few snaps before leaving with the rest of the starters. Moving forward, it sounds like a rotation is possible.
"Yes, that’s something that Coach Stoutland and I, we’ll make that decision to see who’s the next best available," explained Pederson. "And maybe it’s somebody that hasn’t played there this spring or this summer. We’ve just got to make all those combinations work in the next couple of weeks. We’re still in training camp mode and we’ve got time to figure it out."
Pederson downplayed the idea that the Eagles will look for external help to replace Johnson. Instead, he talked up the players currently on the roster.
"Like I said earlier, we have the guys," he said. "We have the bodies to fill in. Matt Tobin has done a nice job filling in for Jason Peters and he continues to get better. If Lane’s not there, then there’s Dennis Kelly, and [Halapoulivaat Vaitai] is over there, and I know Allen Barbre has played some tackle in the past. There’s some combinations that can be worked out as you go to make this thing go."
The reality is that there aren't great options out on the free agent market at this point in this year. The Eagles' internal options aren't exactly stellar, either. Lamenting on their misfortune won't do the Eagles any good, though. They'll have to put together a lineup and hope for the best.