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Jack Driscoll of the Eagles Steps Up in Place of Lane Johnson: “It’s a Tough Job”

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PHILADELPHIA – Jack Driscoll’s phone rang around noon. Jeff Stoutland was on the other line.

“Be ready to go,” Stoutland told him.

Jack Driscoll was ready to go, stepping in for Lane Johnson when the Philadelphia Eagles’ superb right tackle woke up Sunday morning with groin soreness. Rather than risk further injury on a rain-soaked field, the Eagles chose caution over risk, shutting down Johnson when a pregame MRI revealed some inflammation.

It was the kind of gut punch that could have derailed lesser teams, and, when it comes to Johnson, it usually leaves the Eagles on the ground gasping for air.

Driscoll wasn’t really ready to go the last time he was called on, and that was against the New York Jets on Oct. 15 when Johnson limped off after nine snaps. It was the 10-1 Eagles’ only loss of the season, and Driscoll struggled mightily in it.

“I know I went out there and didn’t play my best football,” he said. “You guys know that. I know that. It was frustrating. But my thing was to get better every day, and no matter when my number is called, if my number is called, I’m going to be ready to go. I didn’t play up to my standard … It was an opportunity to show what I can do.”

Driscoll was ready this time. He heeded his offensive line coach’s advice when he took that call and stepped in to make sure the Buffalo Bills didn’t tack on another loss to a rather nebulous record when Johnson doesn’t play. Some record-keepers have that record minus Johnson at 13-22, others at 12-23, and still others at 10-22 since 2016.

Whatever it is, the Eagles added a win to it, beating the Bills 37-34 in overtime at Lincoln Financial Field.

Jack Driscoll filled in well for right tackle Lane Johnson, who woke up with groin soreness on game day and helped the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Buffalo Bills in overtime.

Ed Kracz/SI Eagles Today

“Filling Lane’s shoes is not an easy job,” said Driscoll. “My thing was to play hard, get better every play and battle. As a backup, you never know when your number is going to get called.”

It helped to have Johnson on the sideline, too, to serve as another set of eyes and for moral support, but also, Driscoll said, “To kind of pick his brain, see what he’s seeing, what’s the set line, the hands; it meant a lot he was out there.”

It wasn’t a very good beginning for Driscoll when Leonard Floyd beat him to the inside on the Eagles’ very first play of the game, but the reserve got better as the game went on.

The Eagles, though, didn’t lose confidence in Driscoll after the Jets game and they weren’t about to do it after some early mistakes against Buffalo.

“He learned the last time with the Jets,” said left tackle Jordan Mailata. “People doubted after that game, but we never did. We never lost faith in him. We know the product he is, we know the value that he holds, and he went out there and played (well).”

Per Next Gen Stats, Driscoll allowed four pressures on 14 pass-blocking snaps in the first half but didn’t allow a pressure on 26 pass-blocking snaps after halftime. For the game, he surrendered just four pressures on 39 pass-blocking snaps (10.3 percent pressure rate).

“I haven’t seen the tape, but I have a feeling he played an outstanding game just because of the way the game was going, the rush, all those different things,” said head coach Nick Sirianni. “But when you lose Lane Johnson, he’s special, right? He’s different.”

Johnson is expected to return for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game rematch against the San Francisco 49ers, but if he doesn’t, or his pesky groin acts out again, Driscoll will be ready should his phone ring.

Related: Jalen Hurts: From Triple Threat to Silent, Selfless Assassin

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