Eagles Notes: Keelan Johnson knows he must earn roster spot

Keelan Johnson. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

Safety Keelan Johnson returned to the Eagles on Thursday after missing four practices because of an arrest on assault charges.

Johnson was excused from the team after he met with coach Chip Kelly on July 24. In that meeting, Kelly told Johnson that he did not want to cut the second-year player.

"He could easily have gotten rid of me," Johnson said. "It was a situation I wish I could avoid. Just give it to [Kelly] and this organization."

Johnson would not comment on the details of his arrest. He reportedly was charged in Tempe, Ariz., with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. Authorities said he pushed a police officer following a bar brawl, according to various reports.

The safety said he hopes for a resolution in the case soon. It could affect his chances of making the roster, especially after he missed much of the first week of practice.

"I'm on the bottom of the list now," said Johnson, 24. "I need to come back and not force anything, let the game come to me. Stand out more than these young guys."

Johnson was on the Eagles' practice squad in 2013 before earning a late-season promotion.

The Eagles re-signed Nate Allen, signed safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Maragos, and drafted Ed Reynolds, adding to a roster that already included Earl Wolff. That makes the depth chart crowded, but Johnson still has a chance, which was not guaranteed after his arrest.

"I was a little nervous," Johnson said. "This is a game where they get rid of you."


Backups on the line

Allen Barbre was expected to be the Eagles' top reserve at four spots on the offensive line. After Lane Johnson was suspended four games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, Barbre stepped into the lineup. So the Eagles now have an unheralded group trying to provide insurance for the starting linemen.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said 28-year-old Andrew Gardner, who has spent time on four NFL teams, has "done a good job." He also praised second-year tackle Matt Tobin, who was on the active roster all of last season. Julian Vandervelde has an edge at backup center, although Vandervelde's back injury gave David Molk some playing time with the second-team offense.