Lane Johnson Puts a Voice to the O-Line
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — If you're looking for the prototypical NFL offensive lineman, Lane Johnson is a good place to start.
The Eagles' All-Pro right tackle has the pedigree, athleticism, resume and perhaps most of all, the nastiness you need to succeed at the highest level.
There's an added ingredient that makes Johnson anything but typical, however: his willingness to embrace trash talk.
Johnson never stops protecting his quarterback, on the field or off of it, as evidenced by his response to a DeMarcus Lawrence tweet referencing Carson Wentz's recent big-money extension.
“The richer they get, the better it feels when we humble they ass,” Lawrence tweeted.
Johnson, who has never allowed a sack to his rival, responded with a couple of.gifs, the most notable of which showed Toronto Raptors’ superstar Kawhi Leonard laughing.
“I love playing the game, I love showing my personality," Johnson said of his trash talk via social media with the Cowboys star pass rusher. "Some people don’t like that. That’s just the way it is."
The sizzle is nothing without the steak, though, and Johnson has arguably been the best right tackle in the game over the past few years.
Last season was a struggle, however, as Johnson battled through two significant injuries, first a left-ankle sprain in Week 5 against Minnesota and then a more serious knee injury in London against Jacksonville, a multi-week issue for most but Johnson missed only a game helped by the bye week after the trip across the pond.
“Last year I played with a Grade 2 MCL and a high ankle, on my left leg," Johnson explained.
And those injuries "took away a lot of power," according to Johnson. "Stuff I could normally do. ... That’s the [NFL] game. I feel good now, and I’m ready to go.”
The wear and tear from last season is the reason Johnson, about to enter his seventh season, decided to take a step back during voluntary work in the spring.
"Basically I was just trying to get healthy and get ready for the season,” Johnson said. “I really didn’t practice all [last] year.”
He was back at practice this week for mandatory minicamp which wrapped up with a mini-practice on Thursday, familiarly stationed at RT and knocking second-year project Jordan Mailata back to the second team, a comforting thought for the franchise quarterback, Wentz.
Now comes the six-week summer break but Johnson will continue to work on his craft back in Texas during the NFL's downtime.
He and and offensive line development and scouting consultant Duke Manyweather, will run the Offensive Line Masterminds get together in Dallas for the second straight year, an effort to create an atmosphere for NFL offensive linemen similar to what Von Miller has done for pass rushers.
Last year the session brought together 26 O-Linemen with a collective experience of over 700 NFL starts to discuss the many intricacies of a constantly evolving game.
Among those attending last year were New Orleans star Terron Armstead, Jermey Parnell, Ethan Pocic, Austin Davis, LaAdrian Waddle, Menelik Watson, Brandon Shell, D.J. Fluker, Isaiah Battle, Chaz Green, Mitchell Schwartz, Jeff Allen, Oday Aboushi, Cam Robinson, Ron Leary, Brian Winters and A.J. McCann.
Johnson hopes that list grows.
“I feel like there’s not a whole lot of education on how the O-line is played,” Johnson said. “Really, I just want to get the guys together and kind of get a voice behind the o-line position, because I feel like there’s never been one. It’s just always been, ‘Bring your lunch pail and keep your mouth shut.’”
And you can't trash talk with your mouth shut.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen