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Kerryon Johnson ready to put body on line vs. aggressive Eagles defense

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Pass protection will be key this week.

NFL: OCT 23 Redskins at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You’d never guess it by watching the games, but the Philadelphia Eagles rank just 28th in sacks through two weeks. They’ve only managed to take down opposing quarterbacks twice in two games. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz hasn’t changed his philosophy one bit, however, as the Eagles regularly like to send the house with blitzes coming from every level of his defense.

Sack numbers can tend to be misleading, and in this case I think it’s fair to say they are. Philadelphia ranks ninth in quarterback hits (14), and some of their pressures led to interceptions last week against Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

“You can rush well and still not get there,” Schwartz told the Athletic this week. “You can’t judge everything those guys do on the sacks. … I thought our guys rushed well, and I thought they were coming hard. Production will come.”

The Detroit Lions know it, too. Though Detroit’s pass protection held up against one of the best pass rushing duos in the league last week—allowing zero sacks—the Eagles present a much different challenge. Philadelphia does a great job disguising their blitzes, and that means pressure will be on the Lions’ running backs to recognize where the extra rusher is coming from.

Kerryon Johnson, now oddly the most tenured back in the Lions locker room after Detroit released C.J. Anderson this week, is up for the challenge. Pass protection is notoriously tough for young running backs, but Johnson is confident he’s improved since his rookie year.

“I’ve gotten a lot better, especially from last year,” Johnson said on Friday. “Just getting more comfortable diagnosing some things.”

The Lions may rely heavily on Johnson this week, as it appears rookie sixth-round pick Ty Johnson has been promoted to the No. 2 position. Pass protection isn’t exactly a strong point for the 5-foot-10, 210-pound back. Still, Kerryon Johnson is ready for the challenge.

“You’ve just got to play by your offense’s rules, don’t overthink it, and then when it comes that time, you’ve got to put your body on the line, and that’s what we plan to do.”