EAGLES LANE JOHNSON OUT AGAINST SEAHAWKS
Eagles Pro Bowl left tackle Lane Johnson has been ruled out of Sunday’s important NFC matchup against the Seattle Seahawks (8-2) at the Linc (FOX 1 :00 P.M.).
The veteran offensive lineman suffered a concussion during last week's 17-10 loss to the New England Patriots and has not been medically cleared to practice or play.
The Birds (5-5) are 22 games over .500 when Johnson starts the game and just 11-11 when he doesn’t. It would be one thing of the Eagles were playing the New York Jets, Washington Redskins or New York Giants, but the Birds opponent is Seattle, a team still in the running for the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
This is a must win for the Eagles if they want a clear path to the NFC East title, their only reasonable chance to get into the playoffs.
“He makes a huge difference,” wide receiver Jordan Matthews said at his locker this week. “He paves the lane. That’s his deal. That’s what he does. He’s a huge part of this offense. He’s part of this team. It’s definitely going to be big seeing if he can get back. We do have other guys we trust.”
Johnson is not coming back this week. It appears rookie Andre Dillard will be the starting right tackle Sunday. All he will be asked to do is keep pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney from taking Carson Wentz’s head off.
Earlier this week, Pederson talked about Dillard’s progress.
“One of the things we loved about Andre is not only his durability but flexibility, his versatility to play both left and right,” Pederson said. “And even though he's been limited on the right side, he's primarily a left tackle for us, this will be a great week of preparation for him to really kind of hone in his skill and be a swing tackle in that case. But he'll do a great job this week. He'll prepare and it's just a matter of, honestly, you're playing on the right side. Movement skill is kind of the opposite from the left; you’re more to the right, unless you have to step down, things like that. But he'll pick up on it quickly and be fine.”
The coach was asked how have the Seahawks have been utilizing Clowney.
“They're moving him around a lot,” Pederson said. “He'll play a D-end, he'll play a spinner, he'll play to the tight end, he'll play away from the tight end, he'll drop in coverage. They're really utilizing him a lot and using his athleticism, and he's very disruptive, as you know. We obviously played him last year with Houston and he was disruptive in that game, so we definitely have to know where he’s at.”
Wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery are both still dealing with injuries. Pederson is hoping they can give it a go Sunday.
"They're both trending - I guess that's the word of the day - in the right direction," Pederson said Friday morning. "We know that in this sport and in this game, you have to play sometimes a little beat up and both these guys are tough guys and fully expect that."
Running back Jordan Howard is still questionable for this week. That means there is a 50-50 chance he will play Sunday.
Pederson said he is waiting as well.
“Until he's cleared for contact and until I get more updates from our medical team and the doctors, right now he's still day-to-day and working through the individual portion of practice.”
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii