When Jason Peters entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie out of Arkansas back in the spring of 2004, Andre Dillard was still just an 8 1/2-year-old kid in Woodinville, Washington, who hadn’t even begun to play football yet.
The two shared their first Eagles practice together this week.
And every chance he’s had so far, Peters has been in Dillard’s ear, showing technique, breaking down movements and teaching the first-round pick everyone expects will eventually replace him.
“It’s incredible,” Dillard said. “It’s a blessing.”
Dillard, 23, said the 37-year-old Peters has mostly been showing him technique things to improve upon. Peters watches all of Dillard’s reps when he’s not in so he can critique and help his much younger teammate get better.
Because the Eagles are limiting Peters’ reps this spring (and likely this summer), Dillard fills in at left tackle with the first team when Peters is pulled. Not only will this rest Peters, but it will get Dillard ready to play this season if he’s needed.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said he encourages all his veteran players to “pour themselves” into younger players. He likes the idea that instruction isn’t just coming from coaches, but also from their peers. Sometimes that means a little more. But there, of course, is no requirement that veterans teach the guys who will one day replace them. In fact, there are plenty of veterans around the league who refuse, not wanting to help speed up their eventual demise.
But Peters has played 15 years in the NFL. He’s been a Pro Bowler nine times and will one day have a bust in Canton. He knows his time in the NFL is waning and he isn’t worried about his standing. Over the last few years, he’s been incredibly generous with his time, willing to help young players on both sides of the ball who are willing to work hard.
It’s only natural that Dillard is benefitting from it now.
This is a good time from Dillard's standpoint to watch Jason operate and move and really get a great picture of what it's like to be a left tackle in this league,” Pederson said. “Then when we get into training camp and start playing games, Jason, again, will be there to help coach him and really be another set of eyes on the sideline for Stout (offensive line/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland) and Roy (assistant offensive line coach Roy Istvan) to really help Dillard's growth.
Back when he was drafted in April, Dillard said he spent a lot of time watching tape of great tackles in the NFL: Tyron Smith, Trent Williams, David Bakhiari and, of course, Peters.
Now, the two are on the same team and both are working to make Dillard the next longtime left tackle for the Eagles. This will only add to Peters’ legacy.
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