Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/8/13
Lane Johnson thought the Jags were trying to test the ol’ rook out. It happened during the third preseason game in the suffocating Southern humidity of Jacksonville. Johnson the Eagles’ rookie right tackle and No. 4 overall pick noticed defensive end Jason Babin striking his usual three-point stance from the wide-nine position. When he had watched tape earlier in the week Johnson observed Babin often positioned on the opposite side of the line matched up against the opponent’s left tackle. On this night the Jags took a different tack. “They had Babin on me the whole game” Johnson said. “Usually he’s on the other side. ” Johnson lost some early matchups won some others. A boxing official might have deemed it a draw. Head coach Chip Kelly suggested that the Jags weren’t really targeting Johnson more than they were positioning their best rusher away from the side with heaviest protection. Regardless Johnson had interpreted the scenario as the first warning signal of what’s to come. Monday night on prime time against the Redskins in his professional debut he expects Washington to bring the heat in his direction. “If it happens it happens” he said. “I’ll be ready for it though.” If the Redskins think they can exploit Johnson’s inexperience and get inside the rookie’s head there’s someone who’s convinced they’d be wrong. That person is Johnson’s father-in-law John Goodman and Goodman’s opinion counts because he played five seasons in the NFL. Goodman played defensive end for the Steelers in the early 80s and he’s fairly sure he never encountered an offensive linemen back then with Johnson’s off-the-charts athleticism and skill set. “As far as athleticism probably someone like Munoz” Goodman said comparing his son-in-law to Bengals Hall of Fame tackle Anthony Munoz. “Although I think he’s a much better athlete than Munoz. I do. He’s the type of guy that can punch and end and still get off and cover a blitzing safety or ’backer up the field. He’s got the ability to get to the second -- or even third -- level. That’s going to be one of his strengths getting downfield because he’s so athletic and so fast.” Johnson started dating Goodman’s daughter Chelsea when he was a freshman at Oklahoma where he started off as a tight end before his body outgrew one position after another. Johnson converted to defensive end in 2001 then landed at offensive tackle by his junior season. Despite measurables that scouts drool over Johnson wasn’t on many NFL radars when the 2012 season began. He only made second-team All Big 12 his senior season after moving from right tackle to left tackle. And though he skyrocketed up the draft boards after his Senior Bowl week and throughout the pre-draft process to be the fourth-overall pick in April Johnson was still the third offensive tackle taken behind top pick Eric Fisher and No. 2 pick Luke Joeckel. After the draft Goodman sensed Johnson wasn’t thrilled to be third billing. “One thing about Lane he thrives on people underestimating his ability” Goodman said. “He thrives on it. The fact that two tackles went ahead of them he’ll use that as motivation I promise you. “He was hands-down the best OT in the Big 12 and because he wasn’t promoted and played long enough he was second third team type. Anybody that knew his potential knew there wasn’t a better offensive tackle in the Big 12. He used that as motivation. He went out there at the Senior Bowl and rose to the challenge played the whole game and didn’t bail out after one series like Fisher did.
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