To know Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson is to understand he's going to say what he wants and he's ready to back it up.
We kick off the new season of Gunn-on-One with the Birds' Pro Bowl right tackle as he gets ready for the Atlanta Falcons:
Gunn: Last year in August, you sat down with The Players' Tribune and you said "we are going down to Washington for the season opener and kick some a--." You went on to say "the Eagles are back and a lot of teams are not going to want to play us." How do you feel about this year's squad?
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Johnson: It's obviously a different energy, a different team. I feel like we got the preseason jitters out. The excitement in practices has definitely built up, and I think we have to come out with a different mindset. People knowing who we are, that we're established, and we're going to see everybody's best. So I think that's starting to sink in now.
Gunn: How do you like having that proverbial target on your back for 16 games?
Johnson: I like it. It's going to bring your awareness up. It's going to make me play better. It's going to make my guys play better next to me. It's going to bring out the best in everybody.
Gunn: Just think a few years ago, you were dealing with the PED situation and now you sit here as arguably the best right tackle in the game. How do you feel about that?
Johnson: It's all about perspective. I've known what kind of player I can be for a long time. It's just a matter of being on the field and being accountable. Just because everybody's perspective has changed, I'm still the same guy. I still go out and work hard, and try to put my best foot forward when I'm playing, and just go out and have fun. Because that's who I am.
Gunn: You made a lot of headlines during the offseason. Do you like having that personal target on your back?
Johnson: I don't mind it. This is an entertainment business. People get mad at me, saying I talk too much. Then again, I have to go out and play. So at the end of the day, it's all in good fun. It's what the sport needs. I think it makes me play better. I try not to cross the line, but sometimes if I do, well, OK. Put your best guy up against me and let's get after it. So it's not going to really change my approach.
To see the expanded version of my conversation with Johnson, tune into the 2018 regular-season debut of Eagles Pregame Live Thursday night at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia.