PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly opened training camp Saturday dealing with an issue he never faced before - one of his top players being suspended.
Right tackle Lane Johnson, Kelly’s first opening-round draft pick and the fourth overall pick of the 2013 draft will miss the first four games of the 2014 season after testing positive for a banned substance.
Johnson started all 16 games as a rookie and the team’s wild-card playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints. He won’t be eligible until the fifth game when the Eagles host the St. Louis Rams on Oct. 5.
The tackle is allowed to practice every day at training camp and play in the team’s four preseason games. Once the regular season begins on Sept. 7, he must be off team premises.
Kelly said Johnson’s suspension will affect the way the team lines up in camp beginning Saturday.
“It will have an impact,” Kelly said. “Allen Barbre will start off with the first team at right tackle. Obviously, we have to get guys ready for our first four games, so it will have a big impact. But we still have to develop Lane as well so he’ll get reps too, just not with the first team.”
Johnson, in his explanation as to what happened, said he took a prescribed medicine that led to the positive test and apologized Friday.
“As a professional, you’re supposed to be aware of what you put in your body and take precautions,” Johnson said. “That’s something I didn’t do, and now I pay the price.”
Kelly was not pleased with the fact his starting right tackle will be out the first four games of the season when the Eagles play Jacksonville, at Indianapolis, Washington and at San Francisco.
“Everyone in the NFL knows you’re going to get tested,” Kelly said. “That responsibility falls on the player. If the answer is ‘I didn’t know’, they know. Everyone knows. Coming out of NCAA they know. They’re getting tested as the combines. They know they’re getting tested.
“It’s no different than if you get pulled over for a DUI, are you going to tell your employer you didn’t know you could do that? Now he faces a pretty stiff penalty, four games, four paychecks.
“Playing this game is a privilege, if you can’t follow the rules you don’t belong. There are signs all over our building about what you’re allowed to take and what you’re not allowed to take.”
Now, the focus is on Barbre, in his seventh year and with his fourth different team. Originally, a fourth-round draft pick of Green Bay in 2007, he’s been with the Packers, Seattle and Miami and sat out the 2012 season.
Barbre also served a four-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs when he was with the Seahawks.
He signed with the Eagles on Jan. 15, 2013, the day before the team hired Kelly as head coach. He was re-signed to a three-year extension this past offseason.
“It’s good to know the team has confidence in you,” Barbre said after Saturday’s practice ended. “I’m glad they trust me.”
At the team’s first training camp practice, he lined up on the right side with Jason Peters on the left, Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans at the guards and Jason Kelce at center.
“I don’t look at things any differently, whether I’m the starter or a backup,” Barbre said. “It’s all the same.”
Barbre, who was the team’s top backup at both guard and tackle last year, played in one game last year when Peters had to leave the Green Bay game with a quad injury.
“He was here when we got here, but we’ve seen him every day and the work he puts in,” Kelly said of Barbre. “We saw what he did when he went in against Green Bay and had to play. He’s a big guy, he’s physical and he’s very prepared.”
And what about when Johnson is eligible in Week 5?
“We’ll see,” Kelly said. “The ball is in his court on a lot of things.”
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