PHILADELPHIA – Eagles tackle Andre Dillard sat at his locker waiting to make his first start since the 2019 season, listening to heavy metal music at his locker.

“Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel. Was just a freight train coming your waaaaay”

Metallica is one of his favorite bands to listen to before the start of a game. As the screeching guitar notes and high decibel sounds entered his ears, Dillard began to focus on the Dallas Cowboys, hoping that his blocking would mimic the train that James Hetfield sang in Metallica’s “No Leaf Clover.”

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Dillard was in a battle to be the permanent starter at left tackle with Jordan Mailata during training camp. However, after struggling before suffering a knee injury, Mailata was named the team’s starting left tackle, and the 2019 first-round draft pick became his backup.

After Mailata sprained his knee on the Thursday before the Cowboys game, meaning Dillard would have the chance to start at the position, the team had hoped he would man for the next decade.

“Don’t it feels right like this”

Dillard held his own against the Cowboys in the 41-21 loss, and it appears that he will start his second game of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs after Mailata missed another practice Thursday. Dillard said he enjoyed being out on the field, taking in the game’s atmosphere, including the crowd, and being able to play.

“It was really nice to finally get back out there again after a couple of seasons,” Dillard said. “It felt freeing in a way. It was good to be back out there. I think I held my own out there. I think I did pretty well. It wasn’t what we wanted, and we have to regroup as a team and learn from our mistakes on that one, but I think I did all right in that game.”

“All the pieces fall to his wish”

Dillard spent the first few weeks of the season learning both tackle positions. Dillard also said his time as a backup also helped him get a better view of the game. Dillard said it helped him during Monday’s game.

“I just would prepare and study the opponents as if I was going to be the starter, so when that time came, I was ready for it,” Dillard said. “I think that helped me a lot on Monday, and I’m just going to continue to do that.”

As for the competition with Mailata, Dillard has no hard feelings toward the outcome, saying that it wound up making both players better. Dillard also said he had accepted his fate to become a backup.

“We had fun doing it and made each other better,” Dillard said. “When I found out it was his job, I was like, ‘Well, coach always was talking about embracing your role on the team and to be a star in your role.’ I just took that to heart once I figured out what my role was, and I just went with it. I’m very happy.”

Dillard will have a challenging task protecting quarterback Jalen Hurts’ blindside by taking on Chiefs defensive end Frank Clark. Clark had six sacks last season but is dealing with a hamstring injury.

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Chris Franklin may be reached at cfranklin@njadvancemedia.com.

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