Eagles DC Johnson to take indefinite leave of absence

(Chris Gardner / Getty Images)

Johnson recently was diagnosed with a recurrence of melanoma, which has formed a tumor in his spine. (Chris Gardner / Getty Images)

The Eagles announced Monday that longtime defensive coordinator Jim Johnson will take an indefinite leave of absence due to his continued treatment for cancer.

Johnson recently was diagnosed with a recurrence of melanoma, which has formed a tumor in his spine.

“Jim and I agreed that he needs to concentrate all of his efforts on his recovery,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said in a statement released by the team. “His health is No. 1. He’s struggling, but he’s a tough guy and a true battler. I hope everyone will keep him in their thoughts and prayers during this period of time. We hope to have him back with the team as soon as possible.”

Secondary coach Sean McDermott will run the Eagles’ defense in Johnson’s absence.

Johnson was present at the Eagles’ first minicamp two weeks ago, when he used a motorized scooter to help him traverse the field.

“I feel good,” Johnson said then. “I appreciate all the concern about my injury. I really do. I’m still going through treatment.

“The biggest thing I’m trying to get now is just the pain in my back. I’ve got some broken bones in the lower part, so it allows me not to be on my feet quite as much. Everything else, I feel fine. I just keep working at it.”

Johnson, who turns 68 on May 26, first was diagnosed with cancer in 2001. The Eagles disclosed the recurrence of cancer in Johnson in January, nearly two weeks after they lost to the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game.

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