In a locker room full of big personalities, there may be none grander than the gregarious Lane Johnson, the huge right tackle with jokes.
Johnson was one of the Eagles players who provided color to the “underdog” theme during the run to the Super Bowl last winter by proudly wearing a dog mask.
It’s no wonder that on Sunday, as the Eagles began practicing for the Thursday night opener against the Atlanta Falcons, a crowd gathered at Johnson’s stall, buzzing about the then-purported mystery of whether franchise quarterback Carson Wentz would return from a torn ACL for the rematch of the divisional playoff game or if Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles would start.
“If I say who it is, then I get my (butt) chewed,” Johnson said. “Nothing good comes from it.”
Eagles coach Doug Pederson provided some clarity on Monday, when he did exactly what the weekend reports said he would in naming Foles the starter.
Yet this whole charade seemed to be about messaging as the Eagles apparently try to tighten up their mindset while trying to become the first team to repeat as champions since the New England Patriots in 2005
After Pederson engaged in a kerfuffle with the media about the quarterback quandary during his Sunday press conference, it was obvious that his players – some of whom had heard about their coach’s episode at the podium – were operating under a gag order.
When typically self-assured defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was asked about the drama by USA TODAY Sports, he came across as downright skittish.
“I’m Employee 91,” Cox snapped, referencing his uniform number. “I don’t make decisions around here.”