"More Relaxed" Andre Dillard Easing Pain of Not Having Lane Johnson

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is hopeful that Johnson will return this season, but if he doesn't Dillard and Mailata seem up to the task of replacing him
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A sticker with Lane Johnson’s No. 65 made its way onto Nick Sirianni’s visor on Sunday, right next to numbers 55 and 56.

That raised speculation that maybe this personal matter that has sidelined the Eagles’ right tackle for the last two games could be season-ending. That’s the case with No. 55 Brandon Graham and No. 56 Isaac Seumalo.

Once again, Sirianni did not want to shed any more light on the situation, especially when asked point-blank on Monday if the sticker on his visor he wore means he is expecting him to miss the season.

“That's not reflective that he'll be out for the season,” the coach said. “Still working through a personal matter…I wanted those guys to know that they are a part of it and they were there with us. 

"Even though they weren't there on the field with us, they were there with us, and they have contributed to everything that's going on here and to this organization. As far as Lane, we're hopeful that Lane will be back this year.”

The loss of Johnson has been offset in the short term by the strong play of Andre Dillard at left tackle. Jordan Mailata is a work in progress at right tackle, but Mailata could settle into that role if necessary, and Dillard continues to play as he has in his three starts.

He was basically invisible against the Panthers, and that’s a good thing. His number wasn’t called for any penalties, and he did not give up any sacks and just three pressures, per Pro Football Focus.

Last week, Dillard was called for four penalties but cleaned that up this week.

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“He's played three good games in a row,” said Sirianni. “And so he's just playing consistent football, playing good football and I'm sure glad we have him on this team and I'm happy with the way he's playing.”

Shortly after the Eagles 21-18 win, Mailata took the podium in the bowels of Bank of America Stadium and was asked about being on the same field with Dillard after the two spent the summer battling to be the starting left tackle.

It was a contest that didn’t last long after Dillard suffered a knee injury and missed two weeks of camp.

“It’s great,” said Mailata. “Andre and I are great friends. It’s funny that he’s kind of more relaxed now. I love that for him. We’re good, stupid friends. We still have a laugh.”

NOTES: Landon Dickerson “tweaked an ankle” according to Sirianni during the game in Carolina and didn’t return for the final 12 snaps, with Nate Herbig taking his place. Dickerson, though, should be fine for Thursday, the coach said.

Indeed, Dickerson was listed as a full participant at Monday’s walkthrough practice, though the injury report was just an estimation because it was a walkthrough…

The Eagles' streak of winning on Thursday will be put to the test by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who will be at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night. The Eagles have won seven straight Thursday games, which is the longest streak in the NFL at the moment.

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.