Eagles

With help from Jason Peters, rookie Andre Dillard ‘very ready’ for 1st NFL start

With help from Jason Peters, rookie Andre Dillard ‘very ready’ for 1st NFL start

This Sunday night will be the biggest game of the Eagles’ 2019 season to date. A contest between their hated rival on national television for first place in the NFC East. 

It will also be Andre Dillard’s first NFL start. 

The Eagles drafted him to play, but is the first-round rookie ready for this moment?

“Very ready,” Dillard said Friday. “I prepare every week like I’m going to play. I’m just doing that this week. Whatever happens, happens.”

It should help that he’ll have Jason Peters with him every step of the way. Peters (knee) was ruled out for Sunday’s game, but he was at both practices on Wednesday and Thursday, acting as a sort of personal coach for Dillard. 

And last Sunday against the Vikings, Peters would meet with Dillard after every series to coach him up on technique and to point out things Dillard might not have seen from the defense. 

“He’s been a great teacher, mentor, big brother figure for me,” Dillard said. “Since I got here, I’ve learned so much as a player just from being around him and talking to him all the time and picking his brain here or there. Just a lot of useful things that I’ve learned as a player and as a person.”

This, of course, isn’t why the Eagles brought back Peters this year. They brought him back to play left tackle, not to be a coach. But it still helps to have a future Hall of Famer watching and critiquing every move Dillard makes. 

And this isn’t the first time he’s done it. You’ll remember the role Peters had in the 2017 season after he went down with an ACL tear. He was a big part of Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s success down the stretch of the Super Bowl year.

“Yeah, and you see it,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “I saw it last week in practice when J.P. missed some time in practice last week, he's coaching up Andre; he's coaching up Andre this week. What a great resource to have right there by your side, someone that's an All-Pro, is going to be a Hall of Fame left tackle, who can really give you some insight probably more so than us as coaches.

“We just look at the tape and go, ‘Hey, do this, do that,’ and try to teach off of that, where Jason is the guy that's been out there playing, and he understands what it takes. That's a great resource for Andre.”
This isn’t even anything new for Peters and Dillard. From the time Peters arrived at mandatory minicamp, he’s been teaching his much younger teammate every chance he gets.

Dillard said he’s trying to treat this week like any other, but it obviously isn’t. He got the full complement of first-team reps at practice and has been armed with the knowledge that he’ll need to play all week. 

In previous weeks, though, Dillard had been mixing in with the ones. Even before Peters suffered his knee injury and missed some more time, the Eagles have been limiting Peters’ work in practice, dating all the way back to training camp. If there are 10 first-team reps, Peters would take the first six or seven and leave the rest for Dillard. The idea was to keep Peters fresh and get Dillard ready. 

On Sunday, Dillard will mostly face Robert Quinn but also expects to see DeMarcus Lawrence here and there. Pederson said that, as the play-caller, he can help Dillard by design and formation. But they’re not going to overthink this and they’re not going to “clutter his mind.” 

“You want him to be as free as he can be,” Pederson said, “and let him use his ability to play.”

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Eagles sign long snapper Rick Lovato to 4-year contract extension

Eagles sign long snapper Rick Lovato to 4-year contract extension

A few years ago, Rick Lovato was working in his family’s restaurant, Joyce’s Subs and Pizza, in Lincroft, New Jersey, just waiting for a chance.

He wasn’t the best at making pizza, but Lovato could make a mean breakfast sandwich. 

Maybe he still can, but Lovato won’t have to worry about picking up an apron again anytime soon. He’s in the middle of what might end up being a long and profitable NFL career. 

The Eagles on Tuesday signed the 27-year-old long snapper to a four-year extension that will keep him in Philadelphia through the 2023 season. 

Lovato has been playing this season on a one-year deal he signed in February and was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season. It’s worth noting that kicker Jake Elliott and punter Cameron Johnston are also in the final years of their contracts, so perhaps another move or two will be coming. 

While this deal won’t break the bank the way Brandon Brooks’ extension did last week, the Eagles seem interested right now in re-signing some players they want to keep around. 

The Eagles initially signed Lovato in December of 2016 after Jon Dorenbos broke his wrist. Lovato performed well enough that the Eagles traded Dorenbos the following August and made Lovato their full-time long snapper. 

Lovato has played in 45 regular-season games and five playoff games with the Eagles, including Super Bowl LII. He has a giant Lombardi Trophy tattooed on his side. 

Being a long snapper is kind of like being an offensive lineman in some ways. The less you hear about the long snapper, the more likely he’s performing well and not making mistakes. So, for Lovato’s sake, hopefully this is the last time you hear his name for a few years.  

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Miles Sanders chasing records and more in 10 Roob Stats

Miles Sanders chasing records and more in 10 Roob Stats

We've got some overall defense, some Zach Ertz and some Miles Sanders in this week's edition of 10 Roob Stats.

Yes, we can always come up with positive stats even when the Eagles lose!

—> The Eagles have held three straight opponents to 17 or fewer points and fewer than 300 yards. This is only the second time that’s happened in the last 11 years. They also did it against the Steelers, Bears and Browns — the first three games of the Doug Pederson Era. Only the Patriots and 49ers have also had such streaks this year.

—> Carson Wentz’s current streak of 13 straight games with a touchdown pass is 3rd-longest in Eagles history, behind Wentz’s 22-game streak over the 2016 through 2018 seasons and Randall Cunningham’s 18-game streak in 1987 and 1988.

—> Wentz played his 50th career game Sunday. Among all QBs in NFL history in their first 50 games, he ranks 9th in most TD passes, 9th in passing yards, 12th in accuracy, second in completions and 3rd in interception percentage and has the 4th-highest passer rating.

—> Zach Ertz’s nine catches Sunday give him 55 this year. He’s the first player in Eagles history with six straight 50-catch seasons. Keith Byars [1988-92], Jeremy Maclin [2009-14], and Brian Westbrook [2004-08] had five.

—> Zach Ertz now has 17 career nine-catch games. Only Tony Gonzalez [25] and Jason Witten [20] have more in NFL history among tight ends. The last two games mark the fourth time in his career he’s had nine catches in consecutive games. The only other players in Eagles history to do that once are Pete Pihos in 1955 Terrell Owens in 2005.

—> One more Ertz: He’s increased his career total to 492 receptions, 20th-most in NFL history by a tight end. He only needs 14 to pass six more tight ends and move into 14th place. At his current rate, he’ll be in the all-time top-10 by Week 3 of next season.

—> The Eagles allowed 14 TD drives of 60 yards or more the first six games of the season. They’ve allowed 4 the last four games.

—> They’ve also held six straight home opponents under 100 rushing yards, the 6th-longest streak in franchise history and 3rd-longest since 1955.

—> The Eagles are on pace to allow fewer than 1,400 rushing yards ad fewer than 3.8 per carry in the same season for only the second time since 1991 and the sixth time since 1955.

—> He didn’t have a huge game Sunday, but Miles Sanders did add 47 scrimmage yards to his 2019 total and now ranks second among all rookie NFL running backs with 688 scrimmage yards, behind only Josh Jacobs of the Raiders, who has 1,067 (and 97 more touches).

—> Sanders’ 688 yards are most ever by an Eagles rookie running back after 10 games (35 more than Lee Bouggess in 1970) and second-most by any rookie, behind only DeSean Jackson (732). Sanders needs to average 52 yards from scrimmage the rest of the season for 1,000. The only Eagles rookie to reach 1,000 scrimmage yards was Jackson (1,008 in 2008). The most by a running back was LeSean McCoy’s 945 in 2009.

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