Eagles Rule 2 Starters Out vs. Cowboys, Zach Ertz Cleared

Zach Ertz

Getty Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz reported to training camp on time, albeit sporting a new beach blonde haircut.

The Philadelphia Eagles will be down two starters on Monday night (Sept. 27) for their divisional showdown against the Dallas Cowboys. Safety Rodney McLeod and left tackle Jordan Mailata were both ruled out, per head coach Nick Sirianni.

Andre Dillard will make his first start of the year at left tackle after missing most of the preseason with a knee injury. The third-year player has struggled over his first two NFL seasons, but Sirianni threw his support behind Dillard. The first-year coach referenced his strong showings in joint practices with the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

“Based off what I’ve seen, I’ve got a ton of confidence in Andre,” Sirianni told reporters on Saturday (Sept. 25), “and look forward to – obviously it’s a bummer that Jordan can’t play – but look forward to the challenge that Andre has and looking forward to watching him step up and fill Jordan’s role and have a good game.”

Mailata sprained his knee at the end of practice on Sept. 23 and there is no return timeline. Sirianni said they are “playing it by ear” and he’ll stay on the 53-man roster instead of reverting to injured reserve. No one seems concerned Mailata will miss too much time.

“You know, he went back in after he got rolled up on in practice, and then he came in and having some pain in there,” Sirianni said. “We’re going to just play it by ear. We don’t really know exactly yet, but we’re hoping soon, sooner than later, but yeah, he’ll be out this week.”

The options to replace McLeod include second-year safety K’Von Wallace and veteran Marcus Epps. Wallace started in Week 2 and Epps manned the spot in Week 1. Defensive end Fletcher Cox was a full participant on Saturday (Sept. 25) after missing two straight practices due to an undisclosed illness.

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Zach Ertz Tests Negative, Cleared to Play

The good news coming out of the NovaCare Complex is that Zach Ertz will suit up versus Dallas. The three-time Pro Bowler produced two straight negative tests for COVID-19 after testing positive on Sept. 20. Ertz didn’t practice early in the week, but Sirianni isn’t worried about the veteran tight end. He stepped right in and didn’t miss a beat on Saturday (Sept. 25).

“I feel comfortable because he got to practice today,” Sirianni told reporters, “and he got a good practice in today, looked good out there, so confident that he’ll be able to step in and accomplish what we want him to accomplish.”

Dallas Goedert will start at tight end, with rookie Jack Stoll mixing in when needed. The snap counts from last week went like this: Goedert (38), Ertz (37), Stoll (six).

Offensive Line Held Extra Walk-Throughs

The Eagles’ offensive line could be a concern in Week 3. Two new faces – Andre Dillard at left tackle, Landon Dickerson at right guard – are taking over due to injury. Sirianni revealed that offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland held additional walk-throughs to get the group acclimated. Communication and chemistry shouldn’t be a problem for them.

“Stout does a lot of work in there getting a lot more walk-throughs than we even get,” Sirianni said. “He’s going and doing walk-throughs during meeting times as well. They’ve had a ton of communication back and forth with each other, so as far as the communication and a chemistry standpoint, I’ve got no worries there. This is a really tight unit, not just 1 through 5 but 1 through 10.”

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