THE EAGLES and Lane Johnson have accepted the prospect that Johnson will reportedly serve a suspension for violating the NFL policy against performance-enhancing drugs.

They've been ready for more than a month.

It was early August when word got out that Johnson had failed a PED test and was subject to a 10-game suspension as a second-time offender.

On Monday night, the Eagles will play the Chicago Bears in the second game of the season, with Johnson scheduled to start at right tackle.

Don't get me wrong: It is good for the Birds to have their best offensive lineman on the field - especially with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz in the pocket.

Keeping Wentz clean is likely to be the priority in every Eagles game as he does his NFL tutorial against aggressive defenders and defensive coordinators.

Still, there seems to be something unfair about the state of limbo the Eagles are being forced to operate in concerning the status of Johnson.

The Eagles are currently benefiting from having Johnson available, but they are also burdened with the fact that any day an edict could come from the NFL offices stating that Johnson will be suspended for 10 games.

"I'd rather know now than later," coach Doug Pederson said Saturday. "Yeah, you would think you would have heard something by now. Again, it's just day-to-day. I just go about our business and get him ready to play."

This is where the NFL is being unfair to the Eagles.

A suspension is meant to penalize an individual player. Of course, the collateral effect is that the rest of the team gets penalized because it is without a contributor - in the case of Johnson, a starter.

That's part of life in the NFL. No team wants to be without a key performer, but a suspension is no different than losing that player to injury.

You adjust and move on.

The Eagles have not been allowed to do that in the case of Johnson.

The aura of mystery surrounding his status has put them in the position of operating as if Johnson is going to be there while fully knowing he could be snatched away at any moment.

Coaches don't like uncertainty. They want to be able to set game plans based on which players are going to be available.

The NFL, by saying nothing about the status of Johnson, has effectively eliminated that option from the Eagles.

It's been more than five weeks since the story was first reported that Johnson would likely be suspended for 10 games.

While the league has not confirmed anything, Johnson acknowledged that he failed the drug test. Even while complaining that the banned substance wasn't listed on his supplement's label, Johnson conceded he was eventually going to get a 10-game suspension.

This should have been cleared up by now, one way or the other.

If the league is going to suspend Johnson, then pop him so he can begin the appeal process and the Eagles can go about moving on without him.

If there is no failed test, then the league needs to break protocol and publicly clear this up.

After going through training camp, preseason games and now the start of the season, the Eagles should not still have this cloud of uncertainty hovering around them.

Saturday, Pederson was again asked if the Eagles have been giving starting left guard Allen Barbre practice reps at right tackle.

That would be the prudent thing for the Eagles to do if they knew Johnson was going to serve 10 games pending a likely appeal.

"We haven't in the last couple weeks, just because we haven't heard (anything on Johnson's status)," Pederson said. "What we did in training camp and the things (Barbre) did for those couple of weeks and getting himself ready to play - especially now, if something were to come down and to move him over there with a week of preparation, he'd be OK."

Still an offensive line is a constantly adjusting puzzle. One change usually results in two or three changes in depth at positions.

Consistency and cohesion are key elements in good offensive-line play.

Whenever the Johnson ruling comes down, it's likely to have a huge domino effect on the line.

The Eagles have no choice but to operate as if Johnson is going to be out there - otherwise they would be penalizing themselves before the NFL issues one.

Still, the longer the Birds do that, the more cohesion and familiarity the offensive line will develop with Johnson in there.

Then if he gets suspended, the process will start all over again with someone new.

No team wants to have to make a major adjustment in its offensive line three, four or more games into a season - especially when the league could already have handed down the penalty and allowed the team to have already adapted.

The longer the NFL waits to suspend Johnson, the greater the impact it will have on the Eagles when it does happen. That's piling on and that isn't fair.

@SmallTerp