Andre Dillard Making Strides At Left Tackle Behind Jason Peters
Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Mike Groh provided an update their first-round pick, and the start of his NFL career. Andre Dillard, the No. 22 pverall pick in this year's draft, has been working on the left side at the tackle position behind Pro Bowler Jason Peters.
According to Pederson, Peters has embraced taking Dillard under his wings and is showing him the ropes.
“Yeah, it's good to see that J.P. [T Jason Peters] has taken that under his wing, but obviously it's not J.P.'s job to coach him up, that's Stout [Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Jeff Stoutland] and [Assistant Offensive Line Coach] Roy Istvan and those guys," explained Pederson.
"But anything [T] Andre [Dillard] can do to stay in Jason's ear and pick his brain and watch him is just valuable, and then for J.P. to coach him up when he's not in there, just every little bit helps. Players sometimes see things a little differently, and they're playing the game, and it's great information, and it's valuable.”
While there is no battle for the starting left tackle position, Peters has had issues making it through parts of the past two seasons, forcing Halapoulivaati Vaitai into extensive action, including during the Eagles Super Bowl run two seasons ago.
Now they are grooming DIllard for that important role of protecting Carson Wentz blind side behind Peters.
"Yeah, [T] Andre [Dillard] was one of the quick-footed tackles, real big skill guy is what I like to call those guys up front," said Groh. "He can kick out, he can pass protect. He's coming from a different system, so there are a lot of things for him to learn."
"He's extremely sharp. He can speak our language. Really just on the ground floor with him, but excited about his future."
The position is Dillard's to take, if he preforms well, he will be the top reserve left tackle ahead of Vaitai. As mentioned by Groh, the veteran Vaitai is working over at right guard during camp with starter Brandon Brooks still out with injury.
"He's our right guard right now," Groh stated when asked what Vaitai's role is currently. "We're trying to prepare him that way. We're obviously managing [G] Brandon [Brooks] through his injury, just trying to prepare to get ready to play in that first pre-season game."
"Also building depth. As you know, as you go through the course of a 16-week season, you're not always playing with the same 11 every week. We're trying to do two things, kill two birds with one stone."
If things go the way the Eagles envision, Peters will play this season, with Dillard waiting in the wings, learning from one of the best to ever play the position.