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Doug Pederson Backs Andre Dillard as Eagles LT

The coach sounded like the second-year player will start, leaving veteran Jason Peters, who is still a free agent, on the outside, looking in for now

Jason Peters remains on speed dial.

It didn’t sound like the Eagles are quite ready to punch up the number of the veteran left tackle any time soon, though, based on comments from head coach Doug Pederson during Tuesday morning’s videoconference call.

Pederson appears ready to start the season with second-year left tackle Andre Dillard.

“Andre Dillard was the player that we drafted to be that left tackle for us,” said Pederson. “The way he played last year kind of propels him into the offseason where he’s taken command of that role.

“We have a ton of confidence in him – I have a ton of confidence in Andre Dillard playing that left tackle spot. … you look at his skill set and what he brings to our offense and what he brings to the Philadelphia Eagles. It fits right in line with everything that coach Stout (offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland) talks about, teaches, preaches about, and what we are as an offense.”

Peters, now 38, remains a free agent after spending the last 11 years in Philly building a resume that should be Hall of Fame-worthy whenever he retires. He said recently that if Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady can play into his 40s then he can, too.

Peters has tweeted at least one video of him working out and staying in shape, yet the market has not yet developed for him. Or at least he has yet to dive fully into it since his first desire, as he said after the season, would be to return to Philly.

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“We’ve always said that we’d stay in touch with him in the offseason and we have,” said Pederson. “Jason Peters is a tremendous not only football player – he’s a tremendous Philadelphia Eagle.

“We have a lot of respect for a guy like Jason Peters that’s played the left tackle position for so many years at a high level, so I have a lot of respect for his game and what he has accomplished in his career.”

There had been speculation that the Eagles could reach out to Peters as a stopgap because of an offseason that has been done in a virtual world and not on a field, a restriction that may or may not hinder Dillard’s development.

Dillard started three games at left tackle last year when Peters injured and held up well against three premier pass rushers in Robert Quinn, Everson Griffen, and Khalil Mack.

"He had a chance to play in a few games this past year it, and he played well," said Pederson. "Wasn't perfect, but he played well, and that's something that as coaches we continue to grasp ahold of. He'll have confidence going into training camp."

Pederson echoed center Jason Kelce’s comments last week about Dillard’s biggest weakness being a need to get stronger.

“Strength is a big part of playing the offensive line, but that’s something that can be worked on in the offseason and that’s what (Dillard is) doing right now,” said Pederson. “Moving forward, I’ve got a ton of confidence in Andre. I look forward to getting him back and getting him in the huddle on the grass. Our quarterback has a ton of confidence in him. And that’s how we’re proceeding, moving forward.”

If things don’t move forward with Dillard once training camp opens, whenever that day comes, Peters may still be available, and the speed dial utilized.