Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson may start the season unsuspended, according to Fox 29’s Howard Eskin.
Johnson is expected to be suspended 10 games for his second PED violation, but the league has not yet made a ruling, awaiting the report on his “B” sample. Johnson has claimed no wrongdoing, stating he took a substance cleared by the NFLPA’s Aegis application that provides information on supplements. This set off a small firestorm that caused the NFLPA to issue a statement that distanced themselves from Johnson:
1. NFLPA does not approve supplements.
2. While the [Aegis] App may have listed it with a green check, players are reminded within the app, at team meetings and as part of the policy that a) supplements may contain stuff not on the label and b) still strict liability for putting it in your body if it contains something not on the label.
The Eagles made Johnson a late scratch in last night’s 14-6 win over the Jets in the preseason finale, removing the risk of him suffering an injury. If Johnson’s expected suspension holds up but does not go into effect until after the Eagles 7th game (Week 8, Sunday Night vs the Cowboys on Oct. 30th), his suspension would carry over into the 2017 season.
The domino effects on this could be significant. If Johnson were to miss the first 10 games of the season, the team may opt to bring in a veteran tackle who is cut this weekend or is currently a free agent as a short term replacement until Johnson returns. The team previously had interest in veteran Will Beatty, who signed with the Giants earlier this week, and also had some interest in veteran guard Jahri Evans before he signed with Seattle. But if Johnson will instead miss the second half of this season and some of the beginning of next season, that could completely alter the Eagles plans. If Johnson will be available for at the beginning of the season, the Eagles would have the luxury of gauging the development of rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai or a young tackle that is cut over the weekend and added to the roster as a potential replacement for the rest of the season and beginning of next year. Rosters must be cut down to 53 by 4pm on Saturday.