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Would Eagles be making a mistake by benching Andre Dillard and putting Jason Peters back at left tackle?

Paul Domowitch, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Football

PHILADELPHIA -- In a move that displayed a level of maturity and intelligence well beyond his 24 years, Andre Dillard pulled the plug on all of his social media this summer.

Waved bye-bye to Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. Doesn't even do Google searches anymore. That said, he still had a pretty good idea of what everybody was saying and tweeting last week as he prepared to make just his third career start at left tackle for the Eagles since replacing injured Jason Peters.

"I guarantee you, people were like, 'Oh, man. Khalil Mack against the rookie. Mack against the rookie,'" he said. "I can guarantee you everybody was doing that."

As it turned out, even Dillard did that Sunday the first time he lined up across from the Bears' three-time All-Pro edge-rusher.

"The first thing that was going through my mind was, 'Holy crap. This is Khalil Mack right in front of me,' " he said. "I mean, I watched him on TV before I was even here (in the NFL). He's an amazing player. Strong. Fast. He's got it all. I just did everything I was trained to do and survived it."

He actually did a little more than survive. The rookie faced all three of the Bears' top edge-rushers in the Eagles' 22-14 win: Mack, Leonard Floyd, and Aaron Lynch. Dillard made some mistakes, including allowing a third-quarter sack to Floyd. But overall, he took another step forward in his NFL education.

 

"I definitely think I'm improving each week," Dillard said. "Still not very experienced. Still need to get that experience. That just comes with the (practice) days, the opportunities, the games, everything. I've got to keep stacking on the days."

Brian Baldinger, a former NFL offensive lineman and an analyst for the NFL Network, has been impressed by Dillard's "steady growth" in his first three NFL starts.

"You go up against (the Bills') Jerry Hughes two weeks ago; you go up against Khalil Mack. Those are two really experienced upper-level pass-rushers," Baldinger said. "But he held his own.

"Rookie year for an offensive lineman is kind of like a pitcher going through the batting order for the first time. You kind of need to see everybody, see different rushes, different looks and schemes. But I think he looks fine out there.

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