Eagles plan for opener with and without Lane Johnson

Lane Johnson, still not suspended.

What if that hasn't changed in, say, a week? How do the Eagles prepare for their opener not knowing whether their right tackle is playing? Does it matter - since everyone figures a suspension will arrive sooner or later - that he might be available for Week 1 but not Week 2?

"Great question, and this is something that we wrestle with every day," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday. "The conversations are such that we've got to have . . . a plan ready to go. I'll tell you this: If he's ready to go, then he's our guy.

"You just go with that, because he's got plenty of reps in training camp. And that was part of the reason why getting Allen (Barbre) over there and getting 'Big V' (rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai) some reps and all that (was important). But we've got to cover all our bases one way or the other, and just have a plan when we get to that point."

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Johnson got word July 30 that his "A" drug test sample from early June came up positive for peptides, banned substances that can bond amino acids in a way that builds strength and aids recovery. Johnson has said he took an amino acid supplement, whose label contained no banned substances. Johnson also has said he plans to sue the manufacturer.

Johnson has said he expects to be suspended 10 games, the prescribed penalty for a second-time offender. Johnson served a four-game suspension two years ago for what he has said was Adderall, which the league sees as a stimulant, not a PED.

But we don't know the suspension will be 10 games. The league has not commented. And if Johnson appeals, he almost certainly could start the season with the Eagles.

What if he played, say the first month, then sat out 10 games, making him unavailable for crucial games down the stretch, and wasn't back to normal for a possible playoff game?

Johnson reiterated Tuesday that he plans to do "what's best for the team." Pederson said Johnson will get some reps Thursday against the Jets, in the preseason finale.

Pederson said that if Johnson isn't suspended for the opener, Barbre will go back to left guard, where he was playing before the drug test news broke.

"I think he had a tremendous camp and tremendous offseason at left guard, and you kind of put the pieces back in place," Pederson said.

Assuming Barbre isn't at left guard for the Sept. 11 opener, Pederson reiterated that no decision has been made there between third-round rookie Isaac Seumalo, currently sidelined with a pec strain, and veteran Stefen Wisniewski, who played well Saturday night at Indianapolis.

Asked whether Seumalo has shown enough to make the coaches comfortable with him as a starter, despite missing these final two preseason games, Pederson said he has. "Whether he is or he isn't (the starter, ultimately) he's shown us enough that (he) gives us a lot of depth at that position, and some versatility up front," Pederson said.

Knee derailed Martin

Probably the biggest surprise among Sunday's cuts, for people covering the team, was defensive tackle Mike Martin. Just last week, Doug Pederson spoke of Martin playing 15 to 20 plays a game in a rotation. While Chip Kelly project Taylor Hart has adapted pretty well, going from 3-4 DE to 4-3 DT, Martin was a standout in the spring and the early days of training camp, before suffering an Aug. 5 knee injury.

"The knee just never came back. It just never bounced back, and it is hard. It's tough for players, and veteran players like that," Pederson said of Martin, a third-round Titans draft choice in 2012. "You're making decisions that are kind of out of his control. We also felt like doing it early enough, that if there's an interest out there from another team that could pick him up," it would be for the best. "And plus we had some young guys play well. So, all in all, it was the right thing to do for the team."

Birdseed

The Eagles claimed well-traveled defensive tackle Bruce Gaston on waivers from San Diego . . . Doug Pederson said defensive linemen Vinny Curry (knee) and Taylor Hart (knee and ankle) will be held out of Thursday's game but should be OK for the season opener . . . Ditto cornerback Leodis McKelvin, who missed practice with a hamstring strain, Pederson said . . . Pederson indicated that corner Aaron Grymes, waived/injured Monday, could ultimately return to the practice squad, once his AC sprain heals . . . Chase Daniel will start at quarterback against the Jets, but McLeod Bethel-Thompson should get his most extensive action. Fans no doubt will treasure the opportunity to wish him an emotional farewell.


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@LesBowen

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