Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Awful R. Johnson Injury; DeSean Mixes It Up

BETHLEHEM --- Another afternoon of live practice brought another injury and another fight.

Awful R. Johnson Injury; DeSean Mixes It Up

""Scuffles ... like that happen," DeSean Jackson said. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
""Scuffles ... like that happen," DeSean Jackson said. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

BETHLEHEM --- Another afternoon of live practice brought another injury and another fight.

Ron Johnson, a wide receiver who spent last season on the Eagles' practice squad, suffered a gruesome right ankle dislocation and apparent fracture when his cleats seemed to catch and he fell awkwardly. Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said Johnson was transported to the Lehigh Valley Medical Center for treatment.

Burkholder confirmed what onlookers reported -- that Johnson tried to pull his ankle back together as he lay on the ground, but was unsuccessful, as was the Eagles' medical staff.

"He was in a lot of pain ... my assistant, Joe O'Pella, did the right thing by covering it up with a towel, so the kid doesn't see it and get freaked out and go into shock," Burkholder said.

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Johnson, who turns 24 on Friday, was drafted in the sixth round last year by San Francisco, then acquired by the Eagles through waivers. He had a good spring and was off to a strong start in camp, showing quickness and good hands.

"I really like him," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He's been coming on since we got him. He's been improving every day. He worked out all offseason like a wild man. You hate seeing that. He's a great, great kid and a good player, too. He's a phenomenal player. He really had a chance to do something with our football team. It's tough. This is going to be a setback for him, but he's a battler, and he'll battle through it. It's hard. That's the toughest part about the game."

 Safety O.J. Atogwe stayed by Johnson as he was attended to on the field.

"I just wanted to show him some comfort and some love, some mercy," Atogwe said. He said he had been in Johnson's position. "Just to have the support of your teammates, their presence, can help you calm down and relax ... I was just praying for him, man, praying that God would keep him and give him some peace. Injuries are tough to deal with, but you always come out on the other side of it. I just wanted him to be positive, and not to be in any despair.

"He just fell awkwardly and landed over top of his body. Sometimes the body falls in ways it ain't supposed to."

DeSean Jackson said Johnson is "like a little brother" to him. "I could just hear him saying this year was going to be his year, and things like that," Jackson said. "He has a lot of upside, a lot of talent. It's an unfortunate situation. This game we play is definitely brutal."

***

Later in the practice, Jackson and corner Brandon Hughes came to blows, ending a back-and-forth that began when Jackson snazzily faked out Hughes after a short catch and took off.

"I don't worry about that man, it was an incident ... we threw a couple of blows," Jackson said. "It's a part of football and a part of training camp. Obviously, you can't do that during the regular season ... out here on the field, it's tense like that, heat, tired, it's a part of the game, man.

"Scuffles ... like that happen. He's not a starter, I'm a starter, so as far as any of that type of stuff, I don't really care. Whoever it is, it is. It's part of the game."

Afterward, coaching intern and former Eagles wideout Greg Lewis pulled Jackson aside. Jackson said Lewis reminded him he was a starter and a leader.

"He didn't want me getting hurt -- me being out there, anything stupid happen, whatever it is," Jackson said.

***

The Eagles announced that WR Riley Cooper underwent successful surgery to repair his broken left collarbone. Defensive end Jason Babin's MRI confirmed that he strained his right calf. The team offered no timetable for Babin's return. Cooper is expected back in about six weeks.

Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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