PHILADELPHIA – Eagles All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson has dealt with one or two good defensive limen over a brilliant career that will reach Year 11 when Philadelphia invades New England for the season opener on Sept. 10.
Typically Johnson wouldn’t get to see Eagles rookie Jalen Carter too much but some injuries at training camp had Sean Desai giving the impressive rookie a couple of reps on the outside in addition to his typical interior work.
Johnson, who hasn’t allowed a sack since the 2020 season, was impressed.
“I think Jalen Carter’s going to make a lot of noise this year, I really do,” Johnson said. “I think he can play right now and play at a very high level right now.”
There’s usually an NFL learning curve even for the most talented of players who excelled in college football’s toughest conference like Carter, the No. 9 overall pick out of Georgia.
Johnson offered up a mini-scouting report: “He’s very strong and he’s very quick, lateral quickness. He’s made a lot of people look silly in camp so far, but yeah, I’ve been very impressed with him from Day 1. He has tremendous talent, ability, and he plays hard every down.”
Despite impressive size at 6-foot-3 and 314 pounds, Carter also has a natural ability to understand the leverage game.
“He’s a guy that if you’re playing high, he’ll get the best of you. He plays very low,” Johnson assessed.
When asked about a potential breakout player for the Eagles this season, tight end Dallas Goedert went right to Carter.
“I had to try to block him twice today, and it wasn’t easy,” said Goedert. “I don’t know if you can actually consider it blocking, but he’s a special player. He’s a special talent. I’m really excited to see what he can do this year. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch him because he’s passionate about it, and he’s really good at what he does.”
Asked how the actual blocks went, Goedert was even more effusive in his praise.
“Man, I held on for like a half a second, then I was out of there,” Goedert said. “I said ‘I don’t know how they do it. This dude’s a problem.’”
Carter has been highlighting camp and the preseason games with one or two impressive reps during each session, most notably the impressive interior rush he gave Ben Cleveland in Baltimore. Earlier this week, he was able to knock the powerful Johnson off balance with a club move before the All-Pro quickly regained his bearings and corrected the issue.
Asked to compare Carter to someone he’s seen, Johnson came up with former teammate Javon Hargrave before pivoting to Cincinnati All-Pro and All-Decade player Geno Atkins, an absolute terror on the interior for years.
“He’s kind of similar to Hargrave with his pass-rush ability,” Johnson said. “Trying to think of somebody inside. … He’s bigger than Geno Atkins, but pretty twitchy. He’s 6-3, 320, he’s like a bigger Geno.”