Dillard explains how he deals with adversity after another injury


Andre Dillard has faced plenty of adversity in his five seasons with the Eagles. Tons, really.

There was the right tackle debacle against the Seahawks in 2019, when he was benched at halftime.

There was the torn biceps that ended his 2020 season before it began and wiped out his chances to be an opening-day starter.

There was the training camp competition with Jordan Mailata the summer of 2021 that he really never had a chance to win.

Then there was the broken arm he suffered at practice this past Sept. 1 that required surgery and landed him on Injured Reserve.

Then, when Mailata got hurt early in the Jaguars game, there was Jack Driscoll replacing him at left tackle when Dillard knew it should have been him.

The sum total of three years-plus in the NFL is nine starts. The only Eagles drafted as high as Dillard to start fewer games in their first three years in the last 50 years are Kevin Allen and Jerome McDougle.

It’s been a lot.

“I’ve dealt with some things,” Dillard said. “There’s been a few things that required me to step back and just think and figure out the best way to handle this. ‘What’s the most logical thing that will help me the most?’

“And, really, it’s always come down to just be where your feet are and work hard every day. Just gotta be where your feet are.”

You have to give Dillard credit because through it all he’s become a more mature, more focused and more driven player. And when he did start four games last year he played at a high level.

Dillard hasn’t played since Aug. 27, when the Eagles finished the preseason against the Dolphins in Miami. He hasn’t played meaningful snaps since the Raiders game a year ago.

But the Eagles opened his practice window this week, and he’s been back out with his teammates the last couple days for the first time in a month and a half.

If Mailata (shoulder) can’t play Sunday, Driscoll would probably get the call. The Eagles prefer guys coming off an injury layoff to practice for two weeks before playing.

“I know that I’m close,” said Dillard, who had his surgery Sept. 6. “But I haven’t played football in a long time. I need to knock the rust off.”

This is probably Dillard’s last season with the Eagles. They declined his fifth-year option, which means he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season without a new contract.

He just turned 27 on Monday, and he’s got enough good film to be fairly valuable on the open market.

For now, he’s just trying to get back on the field. Even if it’s just the handful of special teams snaps he contributes when he’s not starting.

“You know, just because we open the window doesn't necessarily mean (he’s ready),” Nick Sirianni said. ”Obviously, we're to a point where we want to get him out there and practice, but he's different than the other (injured) guys (because) he's got to get into football shape. He's been out of the game for the last month. He's got to get himself in a position where he can be able to play.

“So there's a little bit more - I don't want to say unknowns because there's unknowns with all the guys, but he's got an extra element, an extra hurdle to be able to clear.”

It’s been a tough year. It’s been a bunch of tough years. Dillard is trying to take it in stride and be ready as soon as possible.

“I’ve been itching to get back at it for a long time now,” Dillard said. “Just not being suited up on game day was the hardest part of it. Having some major FOMO wishing I could be out there. All the other stuff just takes time and hard work.”

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