Johnson Comes Clean
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - A presumptive dirty player in the NFL's eyes came clean on Saturday after a tortuous 2 3/4-hour practice session with a heat index that reached well over 100 degrees before the session was completed.
Lane Johnson admitted to reporters what he told his friend and former workout partner, FOX's Jay Glazer, last week, that he has tested positive on an NFL-administered PED test and is now waiting for the B sample to come back, which could take a couple of weeks.
The ultimate end game, however, does not long good for the high-priced right tackle.
"Every supplement I've taken has been approved by Aegis Shield app which the NFLPA gives us," Johnson said. "Having said that, the NFLPA, they do not test the products so there is no backing from them. That's all I know right now. I'm waiting on my B sample to some in. That'll be probably two or three weeks from now."
Johnson, who claims he bought an amino acid supplement online and tested positive for a peptide that is illegal under the league's current PED policy, also asserts that the supplement he purchased was declared safe on an app provided to the players by the NFLPA.
He still believes he has done nothing wrong and blamed the Players Association for not backing his cause, as well as the supplement industry in general, which remains unregulated by the federal government.
"Everything that I've taken was approved by the Aegis Shield app and that's the only thing the NFLPA gives us to test our products," Johnson said.
That's not entirely true, however, as the current PED policy, which is actually a joint venture by the league and the NFLPA, explains in Section 3.5 of the policy titled "Unknowing Administration of Prohibited Substances:"
"Players are responsible for what is in their bodies and a positive test will not be excused because a Player was unaware that he was taking a Prohibited Substance," the policy states. "Questions concerning dietary supplements should be directed to the Independent Administrator and/or the NFL Players Association’s Director of Drug Policies at (phone number redacted). Having a Player’s or Club’s medical or athletic training staff member approve or indicate that a supplement’s list of ingredients does not appear to contain a Prohibited Substance will not excuse a positive test result."
Johnson was asked about that hotline by 973espn.com and was not aware of it.
"The NFLPA (is all I'm aware of)," Johnson said. "Only way I knew about this app was that Zach (Ertz) told me about it a long time ago after my first suspension. This is what I've been using ever since and turns out in the long run the NFLPA does not have your back. They don't test the supplements so what is the app even used for?"
The zero-tolerance part of the policy, however, is not lost on the Texas native who admitted he's not very confident on having the looming suspension overturned on appeal.
"A tainted supplement. Still doesn't matter," Johnson said, resigning himself to what now seems inevitable. "I'm still gonna get suspended."
A standup guy who rarely refuses to talk in good times or bad, being labeled a cheater by some has hit Johnson hard.
"It's a nightmare," he said. "I've known for a couple of weeks about it and the most difficult part is to come out here and pretend nothing's wrong. The last thing you want to be known as is a cheater. My son looked me in the eyes and said 'hey daddy what have you been doing.'"
Johnson took responsibility for his first failure but is having a difficult time accepting this one.
"The first time I knew I was at fault (when he tested positive for Adderall, which was prescribed) and there is no worse feeling than having to go through this again," he said. "I learned my lesson and I feel like the players have no rights.
"I feel the supplement industry is not regulated so you don't know what's in it. I know it's hard to believe coming from a second-time offender. I want to be clear that the NFLPA does not stand up for players. When you call and ask them you've tested positive for something they've approved it doesn't matter."
The coach, meanwhile, was pragmatic about the situation.
"Listen, I don't get into all of that," Doug Pederson said. "[At the] end of the day you just got to be smart with what you put in your body. Everybody's responsible for that. I'm responsible for what I put in my body. At the end of the day, you just got to make good choices that way. We just got to move forward day-to-day."
With Johnson facing the 10-game ban, the Eagles started implementing their plan B on Saturday, moving left guard Allen Barbe out to right tackle and letting rookie Isaac Seumalo take some reps at left guard with the first team.
The better news is that both left tackle Jason Peters (hamstring) and right guard Brandon Brooks (biceps) were back in a limited fashion so when the music officially stops, it's likely going to be Barbre at RT and Stefan Wisniewski, who has been working in for Brooks at RG, slipping in at left guard.
"He's played there, number one – more left tackle than right, but he's been there in the past," Pederson said when talking about looking at Brabre at RT. "I love his athleticism. He's a smart guy out there. Some of these next couple of days we've just got to keep getting him some reps and getting him caught up."
-Carson Wentz was held out of team drills Saturday as a precaution with sore ribs. Wentz took a big hit on a blitz late in the game against the Bucs on Thursday night and is still feeling the effects of it.
"If you were watching the game the other night, he took a shot – [it was] like [the] next-to-the-last play – got up a little bit slow," Pederson said. "So, he's just sore today. [We] just wanted to protect him, so he didn't throw."
-A whole slew of injured players was back on the practice field Saturday, at least in a limited fashion, highlighted by Peters and safety Malcolm Jenkins (hamstring). Both had been out of practice since Aug. 4.
-Also returning were rookie running back Wendell Smallwood (quad), cornerback JaCorey Shepherd (hamstring), rookie receiver Marcus Johnson (quad) and defensive end Marcus Smith (concussion). Of that group Smallwood had been out the longest, since August 1.
- The scare with Brooks leaving Thursday's game with a biceps injury was just that as the big man was no worse for wear. Also back was C/G Josh Andrews, who left Thursday's game with an ankle injury.
-Those still missing at practice were LB Mychal Kendricks (hamstring), DT Mike Martin (knee), and receivers Jordan Matthews (knee) and Hunter Sharp (hamstring).
-Pederson confirmed that Sunday's open practice at Lincoln Financial Field will be a two-hour session followed by a scaled down 10/10/10 practice on Monday. Training camp then wraps up with a full-scale practice next Tuesday.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen