Lane Johnson believes Brandon Brooks will be ready to start season

Ed Kracz

Lane Johnson has a new running mate, and how long Halapoulivaati Vaitai will continue riding shotgun next to Johnson as the Eagles’ right guard nobody knows for sure.

It all depends on how quickly Brandon Brooks is ready to return from the ruptured Achilles he suffered in January’s Divisional Round playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back Week One,” said Johnson. “If not, it will be very early in the season the way he’s rehabbing, progressing. Nobody wants to get on the field worse than he does.

“We trained lot during the offseason so I saw him a lot. It’s different not having my wing man out there. That’s my guy.”

Johnson doesn’t have any inside intelligence on when Brooks will be back. Nor does head coach Doug Pederson.

For now, it’s up to Vaitai to adapt to his new role after spending the first three years in the league as a key reserve at both tackle spots.

VIDEO: Lane Johnson explains his Jason Peters attire

“It's all about communication,” said Johnson. “I think 'V' has kind of established himself as a pretty versatile guy. Can play tackle and guard. As far as me, it's just about getting the communication down. That was really it.”

Johnson met with reporters on last Tuesday, the first day of the Eagles’ mandatory minicamp, after missing most of the voluntary portion of the offseason. He said he would occasionally come into the team’s training facility for meetings during the spring, since he is staying across the river in Moorestown, N.J.

Johnson, who met with reporters wearing a Team Peters hat and Team Peters T-shirt, which had those words emblazoned on both items with also the words, “lifetime member,” and Vaitai had three days of work together before heading into summer break.

The reason it wasn’t longer was because Johnson did not attend OTAs. He said he did not in order to fully recover from a litany of injuries suffered last season.

He had a high ankle sprain against the Minnesota Vikings in Week Five then, three weeks later in London, went down with a grade two MCL sprain in his left knee. That injury prevented him from playing the following week against the Dallas Cowboys.

“I was just trying to get healthy and get ready for the season,” said Johnson about missing OTAs. “That's pretty much it. I feel a lot better. Felt good to be out there with my team today. It feels normal.”

Recovery for Johnson included answering some Twitter trash talk with Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

Lawrence took a jab at the new contract extension given quarterback Carson Wentz.

Johnson, who has yet to give up a sack to Lawrence in nine career meetings, tweeted a photo of Kawhi Leonard laughing and adding, “I can’t wait.”

The Eagles right tackle knows he can get himself into trouble sometimes with his Tweets and words and is trying to scale back on social media opportunities to do that by switching to a basic flip phone. We’ll see how that works.

“We’re at the same level,” said Johnson about Lawrence and the trash talking both are capable of producing.

“He’s big with his team, I’m big with my team. I respect him. I think he’s a great player. Every time I go against him it’s a battle; really mutual respect. I respect the hell out of him. He’s one of the main guys I go against, him Ryan Kerrigan, Khalil Mack. It’s all in good fun. We’re an entertainment league. It’s all about the fans.”

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