When we last saw Andre Dillard in January, the Eagles’ offensive lineman had just finished his rookie season and vowed to hit the weight room in his first NFL offseason in anticipation of becoming a starter.
Apparently, he hit the weight room hard.
Brandon Brooks, a day after his Achilles surgery, appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Quick Slants on Friday and said Dillard now weighs 335 pounds!
None of that college body, that noodle body, none of that,” Brooks said. “He’s been hitting the weights, man, getting strong. I tried to push him every day. You know how it is playing O-line, there’s no excuses, you gotta get it done.
For reference, Dillard is listed at 315 pounds and said he was 320 at the end of last season. He spent most of his rookie year at 320 pounds but felt like he changed the composition of his body. In the five months since the end of the season, Dillard has been working on his body even more.
That’s a good sign for the Eagles, who will be relying on Dillard to take over Jason Peters’ vacated left tackle spot. Peters is still available on the free agent market but the Eagles are committed to going forward with Dillard, their first-round pick from 2019. Earlier this offseason, Jason Kelce said Dillard had all the athleticism necessary to be a good tackle but just needed to get stronger. It sounds like Dillard has.
“I’m sure he has a bar he wants to reach but I want it even higher,” Brooks said. “Every time I see him, I’m going to push him to make sure. He may never be JP, but s— he’ll be close. I can tell you that as long as we keep progressing the way he’s going. He’s really hitting it hard.”
Brooks said the offensive line got together this offseason and the guys have been helping Dillard and some of the younger players focus on the mental aspect of NFL football. Once the physical stuff is down, the mental stuff is what you have to stay after, Brooks said. He’s been pushing his younger teammate.
“As a matter of fact,” Brooks said, “the day I tore my Achilles, I was pushing him because, s— I’m about to be 31, I’m beating him in sprints and it’s like, ‘Nah, Dre, you’re 22 years old, you should be smoking me every time.’”
With the injury to Brooks this week, the Eagles will likely be relying on two young players on their offensive line. While Dillard is expected to play left tackle, third-year player Matt Pryor is the front-runner to take over for Brooks at right guard.
Pryor started the playoff game against the Seahawks for Brooks in January. It would be unfair to expect Pryor to play at the Pro Bowl level Brooks has established, but that’s not what the Eagles are asking of him.
“I had a conversation with [Pryor] Monday after I got the MRI to confirm (the Achilles tear),” Brooks said. “‘Hey man, you’re going to have to step up. Don’t look to be me. Look to be you. Whatever that takes for you to get ready from a mental standpoint, a physical standpoint, I’m here for you. Anything you need, I’m willing to help. When you get out there, do what you do.’ I have a whole bunch of faith in him.”
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