Andre Dillard needs as many reps as he can get, as Dillard prepares to replace Jason Peters at left tackle for the Eagles in the Sept. 13 opener at Washington. So it was at least mildly concerning that Dillard walked into the medical tent, then to the locker room with medical personnel during Sunday’s training camp practice.
The Eagles aren’t expected to update Dillard’s status until Monday. He missed some reps earlier in camp with what seemed to be a leg muscle injury. The team’s 2019 first-round pick talked last week about being heavier, stronger and more confident after a rookie season in which he didn’t meet expectations.
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“I’m the guy for the position. I’m going to keep proving that I’m the guy for the spot. Just do my best, and go on from there,” Dillard said then.
But it’s hard to prove much from the locker room.
Jordan Mailata, the third-year experiment at trying to make an Australian rugby player into an offensive lineman, took Dillard’s place. With right tackle Lane Johnson out Sunday (Johnson was listed as “lower body, day-to-day,”), the first-team tackles became Mailata and Matt Pryor, and the offense did not dominate the session.
Dillard was not available to reporters. Center Jason Kelce did speak, via Zoom, and he reiterated his praise for Dillard’s development. (The Eagles host and moderate the Zoom calls and they tell players not to talk about injuries, so Kelce wasn’t asked what happened to Dillard.)
“Andre looks like he’s added a bunch of weight and muscle, and you can tell -- he looks a lot firmer in protections,” Kelce said. “He still has a way to go to become the player that he should be and can be. We’re having fun watching that each and every day. He’s really progressed his game. You can tell he’s worked hard this offseason.”
Sunday was chaotic for several NFL teams, as reports indicated as many as 10 teams got false positives from Saturday COVID-19 tests. This led several teams to postpone or cancel practice until the affected players could be retested. All the problems were with the BioReference lab in New Jersey, one of several the league uses. The Eagles use BioReference, and they had four players out of practice Friday with “illness” who all returned Sunday, but were without five other players because of “illness” on Sunday.
It isn’t clear whether false positives played any part in the Eagles’ situation. Wideout Deontay Burnett, corner Rasul Douglas, defensive end Shareef Miller, and wideout Jalen Reagor missed the Friday session. Running back Corey Clement, defensive end Vinny Curry, wideout John Hightower, and defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and defensive tackle Anthony Rush were the ill players who sat out Sunday.
Tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert sat out Friday with injuries -- Ertz listed as “upper body,” and Goedert with a broken left thumb -- but both practiced Sunday, Goedert with a cast on his hand.
The most serious injury notation Sunday was for reserve tight end Josh Perkins, who is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. That doesn’t sound at all good for Perkins’ ability to play in the season opener. It could boost the roster candidacy of undrafted rookie Noah Togai (6-foot-4, 247 pounds) from Oregon State, who has played well so far.