Doug Pederson Updates Eagles’ Left Tackle & QB Competitions

Andre Dillard

Getty The Eagles are relying on Andre Dillard to step up in 2020 and take over for Jason Peters at left tackle.

Andre Dillard was drafted to be the Eagles’ future left tackle. His head coach indicated that the future could be now.

Dillard, the No. 22 overall pick in 2019, started four games last season and moved around from left tackle to right tackle due to injuries on the offensive line. The results were a mixed bag, something the coaching staff has fully admitted. On Tuesday, Eagles coach Doug Pederson hinted that the franchise is prepared to forge ahead with Dillard manning the left tackle spot.

“As we move forward, Andre Dillard was the player that we drafted to be that left tackle for us,” Pederson told reporters on a video conference call. “The way that he played last year kind of propelled him … he’s taken command of that role. I have a ton of confidence in Andre Dillard playing the left tackle position.”

Of course, the elephant in the room has been Jason Peters. The team let him hit free agency in March but left the door open on a possible reunion. The rumors have spiked to new heights over the past two weeks, especially after Peters released a hype video showing him working on individual drills. Peters looked healthy and agile. More importantly, there are reports that he has turned down other offers as he waits for Philadelphia to call him. Pederson didn’t rule it out.

 

“Listen, we always said we would stay in touch with him during the offseason and we have,” Pederson said. “Jason Peters is not only a tremendous football player but he’s a tremendous Philadelphia Eagle and I’ve got a lot of respect for a guy like Jason Peters to play that left tackle position for so many years at a high level.”

Considering the uncertainty of this weird season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a consensus that Dillard might not be up to speed. One knock on him has been his lack of power and strength. Pederson downplayed that being a weakness. Dillard has been building muscle through his virtual workouts.

“Strength is a big part of playing offensive line but that’s something that can be worked on in the offseason and that’s what he’s doing right now,” Pederson said. “But moving forward, I have a ton of confidence in Andre and getting him back and getting him in the huddle, on the grass — and our quarterback has a ton of confidence in him.”

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Eagles Coach Expresses Confidence in Nate Sudfeld

The other position where controversy has seeped in has been backup quarterback. The decision to draft Jalen Hurts seemed to indicate that Nate Sudfeld had been put on notice. Maybe not.

Pederson admitted that the shortened offseason — and less time “on the grass” at training camp — might make teams more reliant on their veteran players. They aren’t going to have the luxury of waiting for new guys to learn the offense. For those reasons, Sudfeld seems to have an inside track at the No. 2 job.

“Early on in this season, this becomes a veteran-laden football season. Football teams are going to have to rely on their veteran players and Nate is one of those guys for us,” Pederson said. “You know, nothing is ever handed to anybody. I always try to create competition at every position and quarterback, as you guys know, is not exempt from that. But I fully expect Nate to come in and do the things he’s fully capable of doing and become the backup to Carson.”

Meanwhile, the head coach revealed that Hurts has been learning the system and picking up the offense. The next step in his development would be to run him through drills on the practice field. It’s something the Eagles can’t do right now as the NovaCare Complex remains closed due to Philadelphia’s extended stay-at-home order through June 4.

“He’s another one who is a player that we drafted and there’s a lot to learn at the quarterback position so, are we going to take a little bit slower with him until he grasps the offense? You might have to,” Pederson said. “Right now, Jalen is doing an outstanding job of picking up the offense and spitting it back to [quarterbacks coach] Press [Taylor] and understanding what we’re trying to get done.”

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