PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson suffered a Grade 2 MCL injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8 and was supposed to be out for up to a month. But when the team returned from the bye week, there was Johnson, out on the practice field, albeit with a large brace around his left leg. He intends to play Sunday when the Eagles host the Dallas Cowboys.
"A lot respect to Lane for doing that," defensive tackle Fletcher Cox said. "Tough guy."
The league is full of them. As tight end Zach Ertz points out, there are 16 regular-season games, so players do everything they can to not miss a Sunday. Sometimes that means pushing their bodies to the max.
In light of Johnson's efforts, we asked some of his teammates: What's the toughest injury you've ever played through? Here's how they responded:
RG Brandon Brooks: "I played with a torn meniscus, torn labrums. Probably the torn labrum is the toughest one, just because the O-line, we use our hands so much. My s--- would just pop in and out all the time. This is when I was in college, man. I've been fortunate in the pros. The only thing I had, I tore both my big toes. One was 2013, the next was '14. ... The first year was field goal [unit]. They say, 'Get your foot in the ground.' Well, my foot was in the ground but at that time, the double-push wasn't outlawed yet. So I tried to hang on, man, and tore my toe [ligaments] up.
"It's crazy, in the NFL, injuries happen all the time and you hear guys playing through broken ribs and s--- like that, stuff that had it not been a football player, it's like, 'You probably need to sit down. Otherwise, you might puncture your lungs or something.' You get so used to guys playing through pain and injury. Guys play through broken bones, torn ligaments, you name it."
RB Wendell Smallwood: "Probably my PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) last year in the Chargers game. It happened on the first play of the game and I was like, 'I'm not getting out of this game.' I fought through and then after the game, I showed them my [swollen] knee and they were like, 'What the heck?' I actually didn't have a bad game. (He finished with 79 total yards and a touchdown.) I was out a couple weeks after that, so that explains it. It was blown up, for sure."
TE Dallas Goedert: "Oh, man. One time I had a pretty decent hip pointer and I tore my oblique, and I played through that. I was able to get some PRP [platelet-rich plasma treatment] but that's about it. That was my senior year [at South Dakota State]. It was tough. I probably wasn't as good as I used to be when I was fully healthy."
S Malcolm Jenkins: "Luckily, I haven't had many major injuries. ... Hopefully that trend continues. But usually your fingers, the hands, are always hurt. I'm sure I've got at least four fingers that have torn ligaments in them."
A reporter mentions that Jenkins played through a concussion in 2015 against the Cowboys.
"Oh, well, yeah, that was probably the worst one. That was probably a little irresponsible of me. I really don't take pride in that one."
LT Jason Peters: "My knee, man. My knee. (Peters is coming off ACL and MCL surgery.) The first eight games it's like, I'm rolling, but ACL/MCL, man. I done had an Achilles [rupture], [tore] the biceps a couple weeks ago, sports hernia. I can go on and on. But the knee is the worst injury I've had to play through yet. Right now, I'm not 100 percent, but I'm rolling. I'm going to compete every play, and there's not too many people who is going to get out there and just dog me out. I'll get beat here and there but most of the time I win."
WR (and former Ohio State QB) Braxton Miller: "Torn labrum. College (2014). My throwing shoulder. That's why I switched to receiver. Every time I moved it or something, a crazy amount of pain would shoot straight up my hand and through my arm and through my shoulder, so it was painful. ... I fell on a scramble. I slipped and tried to catch myself on my hand, and everything got stuck. Went through surgery, came back early, popped it out again. Took a year off and then said, 'I'm going to switch my position because I can't throw like I used to.'"
LB Kamu Grugier-Hill: (Points to his thumb, which he injured against Jacksonville.) "This one right now. Just [had] surgery, so it's not really fully healed, I think. Knock on wood, I've never really had a crazy one, so it's not saying much. ... It was a bone that they had to screw back together."
DE Chris Long: "Probably a bad high ankle sprain [in 2011]. I didn't practice on it; I would just shoot it [with a painkiller] on Sundays and just play. And then probably coming back from [ankle] surgery too early in St. Louis, which eventually got me cut. (Laughs.) I never would advise playing hurt. But it makes for good stories."