Andre Dillard has given the Eagles a good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.
The rookie offensive tackle has filled in for revered veteran Jason Peters, and has settled in quite nicely guarding Carson Wentz’s blindside. He even held All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack at bay several times during the Eagles’ 22-14 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
But “The Bodyguard," when healthy, will get the nod at left tackle.
Peters, 37, has missed three straight games with a knee injury. It’s not clear when Peters will return, but Eagles coach Doug Pederson said the job is his once he’s ready.
“I’ve been really impressed with Andre,” Pederson said during his Monday news conference. “Gosh, he had another good game [Sunday]; with those two pass rushers, Khalil and [Bears edge rusher Leonard] Floyd, he played well. I do think, when JP is healthy and comes back, I still think it’s JP’s position moving forward.”
Peters is still widely respected but has struggled to remain on the field. The two-time All-Pro selection missed part of the Eagles’ Week 3 game against the Detroit Lions, and left with his knee injury in the first half of the team’s Week 6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He also missed a few plays against the Jets in Week 5.
The Eagles took Dillard in the first round of this year’s draft to be the heir apparent to Peters, and Peters has been grooming Dillard for that role. Dillard had his struggles, as would be expected, but he’s mostly played well and is seemingly coming off his best game as a pro.
Alongside left guard Isaac Seumalo, 26, the Eagles have a promising developmental pair on the left side of their offensive line.
“Both of those guys for the three, 3 1/2 games they’ve been together now, both have gelled and kind of been on the same page," Pederson said. “You see them passing off games. Blocking schemes, and different things. Combo blocks and all that, stuff that takes some time to develop. You see a little chemistry with those two.
“Andre has really been a bright spot for us," Pederson added.
Pederson: Sidney Jones ‘in a great spot’
Sidney Jones was a healthy scratch against the Bears, just the latest bump in an already turbulent year.
Despite Jones’ demotion, Pederson remained positive about the Eagles cornerback.
“I think Sidney’s in a great spot,” Pederson said. “We just had to make a tough decision yesterday to see who’s healthy and had to make a decision there. He’s in a really good spot. He continues to work and practices well. ... You never know, sometimes dependent on game plan, how many corners or safeties, do you need more receivers, whatever you need to get the 46 up on game day. He’s playing with a lot of confidence; he’s got that back.”
Jones has struggled since the Eagles drafted him in the second round in 2017. He missed most of his rookie season with a torn Achilles that hurt his draft stock, and has struggled to make an impact ever since.
Originally projected as a first-round talent as an outside corner, Jones was fighting for a job as a slot cornerback after being benched earlier this season. He was the team’s starter at the nickel spot against the Buffalo Bills after Orlando Scandrick was released, but lost that role when Avonte Maddox returned from a head and neck injury.
He was among the developmental young players on the inactive list despite being healthy Sunday. Pederson said that, once Jones’ spot in the starting lineup was gone, it came down to special teams.
“You have to understand special teams becomes a factor, too,” Pederson said. “Right now, special teams is probably the difference, the deciding factor.”