They put Andre Dillard out there for four snaps on Sunday. The kid’s a first-round pick and the coaches wanted to get him on the field, even just for a little bit.
He was exposed by Ryan Kerrigan on one play, handled the veteran Washington lineman on another. Overall, he got the gist of what it means to be in The Show.
If last Sunday was Dillard’s initiation, this Sunday night could be a baptism by fire. It’s one thing to run out of the tunnel with Eagles fans screaming their lungs out in support. It’ll be another story this week at the noisebox the Falcons play in.
» READ MORE: What we learned from Sunday’s game
“I really wanted to just get that feeling [of playing] off the bat, so that I could relax a bit," said Dillard, who is being asked to play slightly out of position. "I was just kind of taking it all in, like ‘I’m here now.’ It was about what I expected – way bigger than college, the competition is extremely high and all that stuff.”
Dillard, who said he’s never played anything but offensive tackle, lines up at tight end because the starting tackles in front of him (Lane Johnson and Jason Peters) are so firmly entrenched. The 315-pound, 23-year-old rookie did not go out for a pass.
Dillard is next to Johnson on the right side, further away from the center than he’s ever been. One of the things the Eagles will work on in the coming days is preparing for Atlanta’s crowd. Dillard shrugged it off, but Johnson was more analytical.
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“A lot of us didn’t play in the preseason, so we’ll have to get used to the silent cadence this week,” Johnson said. “The silent cadence is everything. Getting off the ball will be a big thing for us. Can’t let the [defensive] guys get the jump off the edge. That’ll be key.”
Not falling behind, 17-0, again also is advised.
(Correction: A previous version of this story said Atlanta played in a domed arena. Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium has a retractable roof.)
“We’ll be prepared for the noise,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “It’s not our first road test. We played down in New Orleans in the playoffs and it was pretty loud. Our guys are accustomed to that.”
Atlanta is just 18-14 at home over the past four regular seasons, and they’re coming off a lopsided loss at Minnesota in Week 1. If the Eagles get behind again like they did against Washington, Dillard can look around the huddle and see his experienced colleagues. The Eagles’ five offensive linemen have combined to play more than 500 NFL games.