PHILADELPHIA – Landon Dickerson didn’t take much delight in his NFL debut against the San Francisco 49ers.
“My play was not up to the standard we’ve set here,” said the Eagles’ rookie offensive lineman following Thursday’s practice. “I wasn’t happy with the way I played, so that’s been the focus of this week, correcting all the mistakes I’ve had and what I need to work on.”
Earlier, head coach Nick Sirianni said Dickerson would make his first NFL start in Dallas, doing so at right guard, against a bitter division rival, in primetime, and with the more experienced Nate Herbig waiting in the wings if needed.
“I’ve been familiar with it,” said Dickerson when asked about the NFC East rivalry with Dallas. “Obviously, not first-hand, but being in this building and seeing the way guys carry themselves this week and how we prep for this game, it’s an important game around here."
Dickerson will start in place of Brandon Brooks who strained a pectoral muscle in the 17-11 loss to the 49ers. Brooks was placed on Injured Reserve earlier in the week with no timetable for his return.
The injury happened early in the second quarter, so Dickerson stepped in to play the final 33 snaps.
While he wasn’t happy with how he played, and didn’t want to get into what mistakes he made, he said he did take “joy” in playing his first NFL game.
“It was my first game at the stadium,” he said. “That’s one thing to enjoy. I can sit here and give you excuses all day, but I believe excuses breed mediocrity, so there’s no reason for me to sit up here and tell you this was the reason I did this, that, X, Y, Z. Just evaluate what I did and fix it."
It’s now up to Dickerson to show why GM Howie Roseman decided to draft him in the second round, making him the 37th overall pick, rather than address another need, such as cornerback.
It’s a chance for Dickerson to show that he can stay healthy, something he struggled to do during a college career that began at Florida State and ended at Alabama.
“He’s usually playing center, so he’s had to adjust to guard,” said Lane Johnson, who lined up next to Dickerson against the Niners.
“Last week he was out there on the fly. This week he’ll have a full week of practice and probably feel a lot more prepared than last week. That goes for both of us as far as me communicating with him and getting our calls down.”
Dickerson spent whatever limited reps he got this since training camp ended, as he continued rehabbing from a torn ACL late in his final year at Alabama, working on being Jason Kelce’s back up and he was a center most of his career with the Crimson Tide.
“I can’t speak to the amount of reps I got (at guard last week),” said Dickerson. “I really kind of been a swing guy, trying to be able to go in at all three positions. Really, that’s been my emphasis this offseason in camp.
"It’s going to be very beneficial to get reps with the first team, especially getting timing down with the guys, learning how they play, how fast they play, what their footwork is, and getting everything meshed up.”
Dickerson said the adjustment to his first NFL game to college was the predictable stuff – speed, strength, smarts.
The Eagles, obviously, believe he has all those tools to transition well into the pro game.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy does, too.
McCarthy, in fact, is concerned over the Eagles’ entire offensive line which has a large weight advantage over the Dallas D-line, especially with 245-pound Micah Parsons getting some reps at defensive end.
“It’s a huge challenge against this massive offensive line,” said the Cowboys coach on a conference call with Philly media on Thursday morning. “That’s our approach to it. Had an opportunity to see Landon Dickerson step in there. We were very high on him coming out of Alabama. I have a lot of respect for their offensive line.”
Making your first career NFL start in such a hostile environment with the eyes of the NFL world on your including other teams’ coaches and players is a tall task for a rookie, but one Dickerson believes he will be ready for after having a week to take first-team reps.
“It does help quite a bit,” he said. “Every player is different. Every guy plays at a different speed from footwork. Everybody gets the job done, but it gets done a little differently depending on each guy. It’s really just a process of them getting to know me and making that combination work.”
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.