The best place to stand during the first few days of Eagles training camp has been near the offensive line. New position coach Jeff Stoutland is constantly shouting out instructions to his guys, often yelling intensely when a player makes a mistake.
If it’s done wrong, Stoutland explains why it’s wrong before they run it again. If it’s done right, he explains why it’s right before dishing out praise.
“Pretty much every drill, he’s watching you and if he has anything to correct he’ll tell you to your face,” rookie tackle Lane Johnson said. “It’s mostly positive, to get you back doing the right thing.”
On one particular play in Wednesday’s individual drills, Johnson appeared to make an errant step. Stoutland let him finish the play, then showed the draft’s No.4 overall pick how he could cheat and gain leverage on the linebacker. Stoutland’s three favorite words — feet, drive, finish — echoed across the South Philadelphia campus.
“There was one play on the outside zone when I was cutting off, I need to get more depth, so I can get behind him and get up the field more,” Johnson said. “He’s very dynamic at what he does. Every moment is a teaching moment for him.”
Johnson has been playing left tackle since starter Jason Peters isn’t set to report until Thursday. Once the full team shows up, Johnson will move to right tackle, where he is projected to start the season opener. The 23-year-old expects a seamless transition having played both positions in college.
“I feel fine. I feel like I’m progressing well, getting a lot better with my hands,” Johnson said. “We only had five linemen [during the first two days], so it’s been pretty intense through the drills.”
The Oklahoma product isn’t afraid to take advice from his more accomplished teammates, either. Jason Kelce, the starting center and unofficial captain, has been impressed with the raw talent Johnson is flashing early in camp. They’ll tidy up and fix the miscues soon enough.
“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” Kelce said, of what advice he has given Johnson. “They drafted you because you’re a big, fast, strong guy — don’t ever be pulled back. We’d rather have a guy right now at this point, a guy like Lane who is a rookie, that goes out and blows somebody up. If it’s the wrong guy, we can correct that.”
Or, more aptly, Stoutland can correct that. The former offensive line coach at Alabama is quickly gaining a reputation out on the practice field, even among the veterans. His intensity is infectious.
“I don’t know what he’s taking before practice, but he needs to give me some,” joked Kelce. “B-12 shots, I guess.”