PHILADELPHIA – It feels like a time machine nobody wants to board because it feels like a trip back to 2020 when the Eagles used 14 different starting offensive line combinations.
Here the Eagles are again, after just Week 2, with two replacements having to step in for a pivotal Monday night game against their NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys.
Left tackle Jordan Mailata was officially ruled on Saturday with a knee sprain. In his place will step Andre Dillard, a former first-round pick from 2019 out to prove he is not a bust.
“We believe in everybody,” said running back Miles Sanders. “We have the guys who we have. We depend on the starters but we also have guys who can be starters, too. I’m excited for Andre to get out there and get his reps. He had a good camp,”
Mailata will remain on the 53-man roster, head coach Nick Sirianni said, and not go on Injured Reserve.
“We're going to just play it by ear,” said the coach. “We don't really know exactly yet (how long Mailata will be out), but we're hoping (to have him back) soon, sooner than later, but yeah, he'll be out this week.”
Earlier in the week, rookie second-round pick Landon Dickerson was tabbed to be the starter at right guard when Brandon Brooks suffered a pectoral strain in last week’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Also ruled out for Monday night is safety Rodney McLeod, with linebacker Davion Taylor (calf) and running back Boston Scott (illness) listed as questionable.
McLeod will miss his third straight game this year. Clearly, the Eagles had hoped the veteran would be ready to play by now otherwise they could have just placed him on Injured Reserve at the start of the season to save a roster spot.
Players can return from IR after missing just three games.
Some good news, though. Tight end Zach Ertz was activated off the Reserve/COVID list on Saturday. He had been placed on the list on Monday.
“We didn't know one way or the other with Zach early on in the week, so we kind of made a couple different plans with personnel groupings, just in the case that we got to today and he was ready to go,” said Sirianni.
“So, he was, and I feel comfortable because he got to practice today, and he got a good practice in today, looked good out there, so confident that he'll be able to step in and accomplish what we want him to accomplish.”
As for the offensive line juggling so early in the season, well, not ideal, though Sirianni didn’t seem overly concerned due to the way OL coach Jeff Stoutland conducts his business with his position group.
Sirianni said that Stoutland will hold walkthroughs with his line during team meetings.
“They've had a ton of communication back and forth with each other, so as far as the communication and a chemistry standpoint, I've got no worries there,” the coach said. “This is a really tight unit, not just one through five but one through 10.”
Sirianni also professed that he likes what he has seen of Dillard since he arrived as the head coach in January.
Dillard made three starts at left tackle as a rookie when Jason Peters was hurt, and one at right tackle when Lane Johnson was out. He missed all of last season after tearing a biceps muscle in August.
“I've seen him have confidence,” said Sirianni. “I've seen him be able to shut the pass rush down in our practice. We gave him a couple different looks of different scout team players to go against, and I feel really confident in Andre, and he should feel confident in himself.
“Since I've gotten here, again, I can't say what happened in the past here. Since I've gotten here, I've had complete confidence in him. I know he had that injury that set him back a little bit in training camp, but I've had complete confidence in him ever since I've got here, and then he gets that Jets game and the Jets practices and the New England practices, and I just think he's looked really good.”
Now, Dillard has a chance to prove his coach’s observations correct.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.