Philadelphia Eagles News

Andre Dillard will start at right tackle vs. Seahawks

Rookie first-round pick Andre Dillard is back in the starting lineup this Sunday as an injury replacement, but this time it's for right tackle Lane Johnson.

"It's obviously going to be a challenge," Dillard said. "I'm up for it and I'm perfectly capable."

The Eagles ruled Johnson out on Friday. Johnson suffered a concussion and exited last Sunday's game against the New England Patriots' in the second quarter after tight end Dallas Goedert's 5-yard touchdown reception.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced Johnson in the game, but with the full week of prep, the Eagles decided to turn to the player they drafted 22nd overall in April.

It will be Dillard's first-ever game reps at right tackle at any level. He did receive some practice reps on the right side during Training Camp.

"It takes a lot of repetition, really. It's a big muscle memory thing more than anything. Your eyes. Your brain. Your entire body, really, because if you go your whole life doing something one way and then you suddenly flip it on a week's notice, your brain is like, 'Whoa. This doesn't feel right,'" Dillard said.

Fortunately, it's not Dillard's first NFL game experience. He started three games in place of Jason Peters at left tackle. Dillard used the analogy of writing an essay with your non-writing hand. That's what the transition to the other side of the formation has been like for Dillard.

"He looks good. Each day he has got better," head coach Doug Pederson said on Friday morning. "He's really settled in. He had a good day yesterday and expect the same today. He's trending in the right direction."

Johnson is an All-Pro talent who works beautifully in tandem with Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks. Dillard said that Brooks is one of the veterans who has mentored him since he was drafted. Brooks is confident that the 24-year-old will be up for the task.

"I have nothing but faith in Andre Dillard," Brooks said. "I said it after the game. You don't replace Lane Johnson. He's a one-of-a-kind talent, one-of-a-kind player. But at the same time, Dillard has more than enough talent. He's more than capable of handling his own out there."

The Seahawks' pass rush has struggled this season. Seattle has 20 sacks on the season, tied for 28th in the league. Only three of those sacks have come on third down. Seattle's most accomplished pass rusher is three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who is coming off arguably the best game of his NFL career in the Week 10 win over San Francisco. Clowney posted five tackles, a sack, five quarterback hits, and a fumble return for a touchdown.

However, Clowney is questionable with knee and hip injuries. He did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday and the team traveled to Philadelphia on Friday. When Clowney played the Eagles last season as a member of the Houston Texans, he registered nine tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

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