Lane Johnson’s return in Week 5 offers relief

Johnson was the Eagles’ fourth overall pick in 2013. Credit: Getty Images Johnson was the Eagles’ fourth overall pick in 2013. Credit: Getty Images

Whether or not the Eagles’ offensive line is the root cause of their lackluster running game, it has certainly held LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles back.

The team has been gaining less and less on the ground concurrently with offensive linemen getting injured left and right.

But next Sunday against the Rams the Eagles line will take its first step toward getting healthy again when Lane Johnson suits up for the first time after serving a four-game drug related suspension.

However, the question persists, will his presence help? And is he ready to go after sitting out for four weeks?

“We haven’t seen him for a month,” Chip Kelly said in his Monday press conference. “He told me he was at API [Athletes’ Performance Institute] in Dallas working out, and there were some other players there. You know, he looked good, so it’s just the unknown.”

The Birds lost Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre in early weeks, and were able to get Matt Tobin back to play alongside Dennis Kelly and Jason Molk in a loss to the 49ers.

The only returning starter to play all four weeks so far is Jason Peters.

So it seems critical that Johnson step in and pick up where he left off last year, when the Eagles sent the same five guys to the line every game (and propelled LeSean McCoy to his best season ever).

“We haven’t seen him in four weeks,” Kelly said of Johnson, “so where is he at and what’s his — how does he process things, how quickly does he get back into the swing of things, where is he from a health standpoint?”

There is still a lot to be determined, and figuring out who to shift to make room for Johnson is a key part of how the Eagles will prepare for the Rams.

“We’re going to look at everything now,” Kelly said. “We’ll sit down as a staff. We watched the game again this morning and just went through our corrections from what we’ve got to do in correcting the mistakes we made up there.”

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