FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - It’s as close as Nick Sirianni has come to admitting that Jordan Mailata is the Eagles’ starting left tackle.
“I mean, you’ve seen who has been working with the ones at every position,” Sirianni said Wednesday. “The guys have been working with the ones, I mean, that's who we're seeing as our starters at this point.”
You don't have to read too closely between the lines to understand what Sirianni is saying.
Mailata? First-team left tackle Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Dillard? Second-team left tackle Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mailata consistently outplayed Andre Dillard throughout the four weeks of training camp, but Sirianni won’t name him the opening-day starter, mainly because he won’t name anybody an opening-day starter.
Dillard and Mailata alternated days with the 1st-team offense until Dillard suffered a knee sprain during practice on Aug. 10. Mailata took all the starter reps while Dillard was out.
Dillard returned on a limited basis on Sunday for the Eagles’ indoor practice at the Bubble and practiced Tuesday and Wednesday. Mailata got all the 1st-team reps in those sessions, with Dillard relegated to the second team.
This is the first time that both left tackles have participated in practice that they haven’t alternated days with the starting offense.
That sure seems to mean the Eagles realize what everybody else does. Mailata is better.
Not that Sirianni will admit it.
“Well, Andre just got back,” he said before the Eagles’ practice with the Jets Wednesday. “How many days has he been back? Two? Yeah, so right now with him just getting back, he's working with the 2’s and Jordan is working with the 1’s. That doesn’t mean we’ve made a decision there.”
But Dillard hasn’t gotten a 1st-team rep in more than two weeks, and with opening day 18 days away, the Eagles need to get Mailata as many reps as possible alongside Isaac Seumalo and with the rest of the 1st unit.
What’s next for Dillard?
We know his value is limited since he doesn’t play right tackle or guard.
It’s very difficult to imagine the Eagles releasing Dillard, who was the 22nd overall pick in the draft just two years ago. No team wants to cut ties with a former 1st-round pick after just two seasons unless he’s a locker room problem or something like that.
They would love to trade him and get something / anything in return, but offensive linemen who play just one position are not in high demand. Dillard started four games in 2019 and played OK in three games at left tackle. His one start at right tackle was a disaster. The Eagles would probably take a 4th-round pick for Dillard – which would already be embarrassing – but it’s hard to imagine them taking less and hard to imagine them getting more.
Don’t be surprised if Dillard plays the entire preseason finale Friday against the Jets at the Meadowlands as the Eagles try to showcase him.
Maybe a trade will materialize. But Dillard will probably wind up on the 53 as a backup left tackle, with Jack Driscoll backing up right tackle and possibly guard as well. The Eagles also have veteran offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark on the roster as well as project Brett Toth.
“I thought Andre was having a great camp,” Sirianni said. “I think Jordan is having a great camp. It's just Jordan has been able to go the whole camp, where Andre had a setback.
“That's one that still needs to play itself out. But with where they are now, it's just because of the injury situation.”
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