Lane Johnson on his suspension: 'It's all on me'

ByTim McManus ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Philadelphia Eagles' Lane Johnson warms up before the first half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson expressed regret for letting his team down this season, while making it clear that he still has an issue with some of the circumstances surrounding his 10-game suspension for a second violation of the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

"I don't put the blame on others," he said at his locker stall Tuesday following practice. "I'm on a lot of people's s--- list, but I've got a few people on my s--- list as well. That thing will get settled here in the next few months, so we'll see what happens."

Johnson filed charges against the NFL and NFL Players Association with the National Labor Relations Board back in November. He criticized the NFLPA for not standing up for the players when word of the suspension first came down during the summer. He believes the positive test was the result of taking an amino acid he purchased online that was contaminated. Johnson said at the time that he checked the contents on the label with an app provided by the NFLPA.

"I think the next [collective bargaining agreement], I think they're will be a lot of things changed," said Johnson, who believes the process related to a failed drug test should move along more quickly. "You see a lot of voices, like Richard Sherman, who disapprove of how things go on. So I think a lot of things will change come 2020."

Johnson is expected to start Thursday night against the New York Giants. It will be a quick turnaround for the 26-year old. He was just permitted back in the Eagles' practice facility on Monday. After 10 weeks away from the team, there is little time to knock off a lot of rust. Coach Doug Pederson, though, believes he has no other choice given the injury situation along the offensive front right now.

Johnson said practice on Tuesday "felt natural." He spent part of his suspension working out in his home state of Oklahoma, and said he tried to keep up with the team as best he could.

Before the suspension became official, Johnson claimed that he would no longer take supplements. He has stayed true to that, he says, and yet has kept his weight up -- and then some.

"I'm eating," he said. "People accused me of steroid use coming out of college or whatever. I'm bigger than I've ever been -- I'm 320, 320-plus, so I'm fine where I'm at."

As a result of the suspension, the remaining guaranteed money from the five-year, $56 million contract he signed this offseason was voided. He can still earn that money, but it will be on a year-to-year basis and dependent on whether the Eagles keep him on the roster. The Eagles' brass has not discussed his future with the team, per Johnson, only telling him to "go play."

His absence proved how valuable he is to the offensive operation. The Eagles were 3-1 with him in the lineup, and went 2-8 during the suspension. The instability along the O-line was a major factor for this season's downturn, and Johnson knows it.

"I feel like I let the team down. I feel like we had momentum whenever I left, I feel like we should have been 4-0 after the Detroit game. It sucks the way it is. It's all on me. All I can do is go play. I can talk all day about it, but it's really going to be showing and proving that through the rest of my contract.

"I still feel I'm one of the best right tackles in the league if not the best right tackle there is. Having said that, I still have got a lot to prove and I want to keep proving that every game I'm out there."

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