PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles opened training camp Saturday with two players who will have to serve four-game suspensions when the season begins.
Last year’s first-round pick, tackle Lane Johnson, and second-year linebacker Jake Knott tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Head coach Chip Kelly rejected the suggestion that those two suspensions represent a team-wide problem.
“I think anybody who’s in the NFL knows you’re going to get tested,” Kelly said. “There’s also some individual responsibility that goes with the players. If the answer is ‘I didn’t know,’ they know. They get tested at the combine, they get tested everywhere. Any of these guys that come from an NCAA institution understands that they get tested.
“But they’re also they’re own men. It’s no different than if you got pulled over for a DUI; are you going to turn around and tell your employers, ‘You didn’t tell me I couldn’t do that?’ There’s a lot of responsibility. They’re both adults. They both made mistakes. They’re going to pay a very hefty price. Hopefully, that works.”
Johnson said he was taking a prescription medication that he neglected to have cleared by the Eagles’ medical staff. He appealed his suspension, but the appeal was denied. Knott said he was using an over-the-counter nutritional supplement that included a banned stimulant.
“The NFL is a different animal,” veteran linebacker Connor Barwin said. “Those are two young guys. I think older guys wouldn’t make that mistake. You know right away. Any doctor you see, whether it’s a foot doctor or a dermatologist or anything, just use an Eagles doctor. The young guys have learned that and they won’t make that mistake again.”
With a $12.8-million signing bonus in the back, Johnson’s job is secure. Knott was running with the fourth team Saturday and might have trouble making the team.
“I think the penalty for those guys is appropriate,” Kelly said. “If that doesn’t resonate with them, that’s their responsibility. Playing in this league is a privilege and if you can’t follow the rules, you’re not going to be here.”
Suspended players are not allowed into the team facility while they are suspended. Johnson said Friday that he will find somewhere to work out and stay in shape during his four weeks without football.
“The ball’s in his court in a lot of these situations,” Kelly said.