Eagles left tackle Andre Dillard left practice this morning with an apparent injury, and reports now indicate that he’ll need season ending surgery to repair a torn bicep.
This is obviously terrible news for an Eagles line that has already seen All-Pro right guard Brandon Brooks lost for the season. The front office has made strides in adding depth to that front, but things have thinned out pretty quick.
Of course, if you’re going to lose your left tackle it’s not bad to have a future Hall of Famer and the player who manned that spot for the 11 years prior in Jason Peters as a replacement. Early notes coming out of camp suggest that Dillard had been the least impressive member of the starting five lineman, and murmurs that JP might slide back to his old spot by week 3 or 4 weren’t hard to believe. It’s possible this injury just accelerated that change.
In terms of Peters’ replacement at right guard, the first crack at the job will go to Matt Pryor, the teams 2018 sixth round pick who was already penciled in as the sixth lineman on the depth chart. Pryor is capable of playing both tackle and guard, and all reports on him since becoming an Eagle have indicated a positive development each step of the way.
The final product is yet to be seen, but rest assured this isn’t some nobody being thrust into action—Pryor logged 79 snaps last regular season before being forced to start (and play all 64 snaps) in the playoffs against Seattle; and while he struggled a little, he was approaching time for his number to be called, and year three was always the pivot point in his development.
However, despite Peters’ presence and Pryor’s apparent readiness, this is still bad news. Not only has our depth thinned out but we’ve lost a valuable year in terms of evaluating Dillard’s long-term viability at the left tackle spot. The team spent their 2019 first round pick on him in hopes that he would be their answer in a post-Peters world, and that decision will essentially need to be punted on for another year.
This is obviously not ideal when the number one priority in the entire organization is keeping the franchise quarterback upright. So, while the team is relatively well-equipped to handle the loss of Dillard for the time being, they’re now one injury closer to seeing their line in shambles, and one step further from settling one of the most important long-term concerns for the franchise.