Eagles OT Lane Johnson embraces challenge of younger teammates, return from ankle surgery

Lane Johnson's ankle injury ended his season prematurely in 2020, and at 30 years old, it's fair to wonder whether it may have given the league a peek into his future.

He might also receive an unavoidable reminder of it at the end of the month.

"They may draft another offensive tackle. They got guys coming for me," Johnson said of the Eagles in a recent interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer. ... "That's the name of the game; it's all about competition. Those guys push you, they develop you, and it's just part of the nature of the business."

Johnson knows because he was once in the same position. Drafted fourth overall in 2013, Johnson was initially seen as an eventual successor to left tackle Jason Peters, but instead found his place on the right side of the line, giving Philadelphia bookend tackles for the majority of the rest of the decade.

With Peters now gone and Andre Dillard set to take over at left tackle following a biceps tear that ended his 2020 season before it began, and backup Jordan Mailata coming into 2021 with momentum following a campaign in which he appeared in 15 games (10 starts), competition already exists up front. Second-year tackle Jack Driscoll also returns after appearing in 11 games (four starts), making for an interesting offensive line group before a potential draft pick even arrives.

Some might see this as discouraging. Not Johnson, who just wants the Eagles to return to contention after a disastrous 2020 season.

"If you're 4-11-1, hey, you better rebuild; you better come up with some kind of phrase, to get better," he said. "As far as where I'm at in my career, I'm at a sense of urgency. I want to hit my prime the next four or five years, and then see where I'm at, finish this out strong.

"I like being around the young guys, I like talking to 'em, I like helping them out with their game. And they motivate me, they push me."

Johnson has his own challenges ahead of him as he travels a path back from ankle surgery. He'll embrace even more by the time training camp arrives, and doesn't plan on going anywhere but up.

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