Under the radar, though, was the offensive line that paved the way to Chip Kelly‘s first preseason win as an NFL head coach.
For the second week in a row first-round draft choice Lane Johnson showed the poise of a ten-year veteran, let alone a rookie making his second NFL start in a position he’s only consistently played for two seasons at the University of Oklahoma. After a strong debut against the New England Patriots last week, Johnson was matched up against Carolina’s veteran defensive end Charles Johnson Thursday and the seven-year veteran managed nary a sniff of either Vick or Nick Foles.
“My deal is I’m trying to be a consistent player and not get too high and not get too low,” Johnson said this week after making his debut against the Patriots. “My biggest concerns are just getting my hands on the guys. Not leaning forward. Staying patient and in my sets.”
It wasn’t just Johnson who stood out Thursday, rather the unit as a whole had an equally impressive performance in the run game and pass protection.
McCoy finished with eight carries for 47 yards and Vick was only sacked once pointing to the a good night at the office for this unit even with its anchor All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters standing on the sidelines still resting a nagging hamstring injury.
In Kelly’s first season the play of the offensive line will be critical as the first-year coach continues to install his offense. Not to mention the fact that entering week three of the preseason this team does not yet have a starting quarterback named.
“We don’t have time to worry about [who the opening night starting quarterback will be],” Todd Herremans said after Thursday’s game. “We’re all learning this offense and don’t really have time to worry about who the quarterback is behind us.”
Regardless of who lines up under center on opening night against the Washington Redskins, perhaps the most encouraging sign from these first two preseason games is the fact that the offensive line has given all indications to being one of the strengths of this team in the early going.
Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.