Eagles

Andre Dillard explains what it's like to be guided by a living legend

Andre Dillard explains what it's like to be guided by a living legend

From the time Andre Dillard arrived to Philadelphia in April, he began to understand the Legend of Jason Peters.

Because Peters is more than a 37-year-old football player. He’s more than a future Hall of Famer. Inside the NovaCare Complex, he’s more of a revered Paul Bunyan-like character.

And Dillard couldn’t wait to meet him.  

Before I ever met him, he seemed like a mythical creature,” Dillard said with a smile to NBC Sports Philadelphia last week. “Through all of rookie minicamp and OTAs and all this stuff, everybody would be talking about him, coaches and players included. And I just never saw him until mandatory minicamp showed up. I didn’t really think he was a real person to be honest with you.

Not only is Peters a real person, he’s a real person who is already helping to teach the guy everyone expects to one day replace him. Often during training camp practices, between reps, Peters is seen taking Dillard to the side and teaching him technique, offering tips, trying to make him a better player.

Head coach Doug Pederson noted that it’s not Peters’ job to coach Dillard — they have coaches — but mentioned it’s a great sign to see that Peters has taken Dillard “under his wing.” Sometimes a tip from a veteran means just as much as a directive from a coach.

This isn’t the first time Dillard has listened to an older teammate either. One of the first times was early in his career at Woodinville High School, when he was learning from two-year starter Devin Dietrich, who went on to play for the University of Montana. Dillard’s high school offensive line coach Mike Monan, who was with a trio of Dillard’s HS coaches at practice this week, said he always stressed to his veteran players to teach the young guys and watched how much it helped a young Dillard. That’s why he knows how much learning from Peters can help him now.

“A huge opportunity for him to learn,” Monan said to NBC Sports Philadelphia on Wednesday. “Andre’s a sponge. He’s just going to collect all the information he can and put that into his mind and crank it out. He lives and breathes to be the best offensive lineman he can. He’s done that for me since way back when and he’s continued it to get to here. Working with Peters is awesome for him.”

For Peters, some of this is giving back what he once received. He said he had a “big list” of teammates who helped him when he was a young player in Buffalo, naming Jonas Jennings and Mike Williams. Peters has always been willing to help younger players, but over the last few years, he’s become a little more vocal and a little more proactive, often pulling guys to the side like he’s been doing with Dillard.

It might seem strange that Peters is essentially teaching the guy who is expected to replace him, but Peters doesn’t think it’s odd. He knows the situation.

“We’re just renting,” Peters said. “You’re just renting a spot and when they get ready to get you out of there, they draft somebody high, whether it’s a year out, two years out. They’re gonna put him in there at some point.”

That’s the kind of wisdom a 37-year-old veteran can offer a 23-year-old rookie.

This student-teacher relationship works two ways. Sometimes, Dillard will go to Peters with a question. Other times, Peters (and Lane Johnson too) will seek out Dillard if they see an area on the field or on tape where a technique tweak could help.

What’s the best bit of advice Dillard has gotten from Peters?

It’s not even something technical.

“He told me you really have to train your mind and body,” Dillard said. “Always do things full speed, even if it’s little things. So when you get in those live situations, you’ll be ready for that as opposed to having to speed up from what you normally do. Really just treat everything professionally and give it your best.”

While it seems like Peters might not be ready to retire even after this season, it also seems like the Eagles have their succession plan in place. They traded up to No. 22 to get Dillard and if he progresses the way they hope, he should be the left tackle of the future.

That means he would continue an impressive tradition at left tackle in Philadelphia. Tra Thomas held down that post from 1998-2008 and Peters took over the next season. If Dillard works out, we’re talking about three decades of strong left tackle play with three guys.

That isn’t lost on Dillard either.

“It means the world to me that I’ve been given the opportunity to do it,” Dillard said. “Now it’s up to me to fulfill that task and get ready for that spot. It’s just a really exciting time for me.”

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5-year-old Eagles impersonator gets Boston Scott's stamp of approval

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USA Today Sports Images/@SirRobin83/Twitter

5-year-old Eagles impersonator gets Boston Scott's stamp of approval

With professional sports on pause around the world, fans are looking for anything - video games, simulations, classic games - to satisfy that live sports itch.

We may have found the ultimate placeholder: a five-year-old imitating Boston Scott's infamous spin-o-rama.

On Saturday afternoon, Twitter user Robin Stanley tagged Scott in a quick video of his son, Beckett, pretending to be the Eagles running back:

I mean, c'mon: the likeness to Scott's spin move against the Giants is kind of uncanny.

In case you need to jog your memory, here is Scott's spin:

Scott, of course, made fun of himself for the move at the time, admitting that when he saw the clip after the game, it "looked pretty silly".

I'd say Beckett's spin had a little more swag.

Stanley's dad, a Philly native, told NBC Sports Philadelphia his son was expecting to play his first season of flag football this spring down in Nashville, but the league was postponed because of social distancing mandates, so he's making do.

On Saturday, Scott saw Stanley's video and gave the little man a nod of approval:

That's just good, clean fun. Thank you, Beckett, for the sports-related smile.

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Rodney McLeod explains biggest lessons learned from Malcolm Jenkins

Rodney McLeod explains biggest lessons learned from Malcolm Jenkins

Four years ago, when Rodney McLeod became a free agent for the first time in his NFL career, one of the reasons he wanted to join the Eagles was for the chance to play next to Malcolm Jenkins. 

And for the last four years, he did. The two formed a safety tandem that played 49 regular season games and four playoff games, including Super Bowl LII, together. 

But now Jenkins is back in New Orleans with the Saints and the Eagles are preparing to play without him for the first time since 2013. Meanwhile, McLeod signed a two-year deal to return to Philly. 

On a conference call with reporters on Thursday, McLeod said he learned a lot from Jenkins over the past four seasons. 

What were some of those lessons? 

Just as a competitor,” McLeod said. “And then the ability to get the most out of guys, whether it’s on the defensive side or from an entire team standpoint. I think as a leader, that’s your kind of job. How can you get guys to play at the highest level and get the most out of your players. I think he was one of the best at doing that and understanding everyone … I learned a lot from him. 

“Not just on the field but off the field, the way he handled himself and what he did in the community for the city. I’ll always admire him. It’s hard to match. But like I said, his legacy will live on. The Saints are getting a good guy. Now, us as Eagles, playing with a new group of guys and we’re ready to move forward.

There’s no question that the Eagles are going to miss Jenkins’ contributions on the field. They will use some combination of Jalen Mills and Will Parks to replace him at that position and that won’t be easy. 

But the Eagles will also miss the leadership Jenkins brought to the locker room. He wasn’t just the leader of the secondary or even just the defense; Jenkins was oftentimes the key leader for the entire team. That’s hard to replace too. 

It’s not that McLeod, 29, hasn’t been a leader during his first four years in Philly. But now that role might need to expand and will become more important with the absence of Jenkins. 

“I think it’s important for me to be myself and be who I’ve always been,” McLeod said. “And that’s a guy that leads by his actions and leads by example. I think if you ask a lot of guys on the team, that’s what they’ll tell you most. Actions sometimes speak louder than words. I think there will be times for me to speak up when needed. When my teammates need me most, I’ll be ready to do that.”

For the most part, McLeod has been the quieter of the two safeties and Jim Schwartz has previously called him the calming presence in the defensive backfield.

But McLeod can speak up too. 

It’s really just about finding a balance between his two sides and putting the lessons from Jenkins into practice in 2020. 

“Myself, being a leader on this team for some time, will of course be asked to step up as well as other guys from a defensive standpoint and on the team,” McLeod said. “I think we’re prepared for that. And guys will be willing to step up to the plate and accept the challenge. Myself first and foremost.”

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