Tagged in: 2020 campaign

Philadelphia Eagles starting left tackle Andre Dillard tears biceps

Eagles left tackle Andre Dillard will miss the 2020 campaign with a biceps injury, multiple outlets reported Thursday.

Derrick Gunn, formerly of NBC Sports Philadelphia, first reported Dillard suffered a biceps injury Thursday, and he added the team hoped it was not a tear. Later, NFL Media and ESPN confirmed Gunn’s report and added that Dillard will need season-ending surgery.

Dillard’s injury is a heavy blow to an Eagles offensive line that already lost Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks for the season to a torn Achilles in June.

Dillard was present at practice early Thursday but left before team drills began. Dillard, 24, was slated to take over the starting left tackle job in 2020. The team traded up to select him with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and after sitting behind future Pro Football Hall of Famer Jason Peters for a season, Dillard was poised to take over the starting spot.

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The Eagles have a deep group of offensive linemen, but it’s young and inexperienced after Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s exit in free agency. In Dillard’s absence, the most logical move seems to be moving Peters, who returned to the Eagles to replace Brooks at right guard, to left tackle and moving third-year pro Matt Pryor up in Peters’ place.

The Eagles, however, already signed Peters to play over Pryor during the offseason.

Pryor started camp working as the backup right guard behind Peters, but after right tackle Lane Johnson suffered a lower body injury that caused him to miss a week of practice, Pryor has been working as the top right tackle.

Third-year pro Jordan Mailata took Dillard’s spot at left tackle with the first team Thursday, but he’s had his share of struggles in camp.

Still, the easiest move would be to slide Peters over and promote Pryor, but it depends on the rest of the offensive line staying healthy.

Dillard had an up-and-down camp. He was not “dominant” by any stretch as suggested above by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He missed practice earlier this week with an upper body injury, and while he mostly held his own, he was involved in a scary moment Wednesday.

Dillard was bull-rushed by defensive end Joe Ostman, lost his balance and fell into quarterback Carson Wentz’s legs. Wentz got up slowly, but he was fine. It was an alarming moment. The Eagles appeared for Dillard in Year 2 despite some physical and mental struggles in his rookie season.

The former Washington State standout stated he added 20 pounds of muscle this offseason and felt much stronger. Unfortunately for Dillard and the Eagles, he’ll have to wait a year to show off his improvement.

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Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower to opt out of 2020 season

A huge piece of the New England Patriots’ defense has decided to opt out of the 2020 season.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower will opt out of the season, NFL Network’s Michael Giardi confirmed Tuesday.

Hightower became a first-time father on July 16. His mother also has Type 2 diabetes.

According to an agreement approved by both the league and the NFL Players Association, players considered high risk for COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and an accrued NFL season if they choose to opt out. Players who voluntarily opt out of the campaign will receive a $150,000 salary advance and their contract will toll.

“Me and my fiancée are just more concerned with the health of our family than football — especially the new addition to our family,” Hightower told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

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Hightower’s foundation annually raises money for the American Diabetes Association, which has important meaning to him as his mother, L’Tanya, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Hightower keeps a picture of his mother at his locker.

Hightower was booked to earn a base salary of $8 million in the final year of his contract, which will roll over to 2021.

The decision is a big blow to a Patriots defense already undergoing a transition with Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts leaving via free agency.

Hightower is a thumper in the middle of the Pats defense who has the flexibility to rush the passer. Per Pro Football Focus, Hightower led all off-ball linebackers in total pressures over the past three seasons with 80. The loss is important from an on-field production and a locker-room leadership standpoint for Bill Belichick’s squad.

Hightower is the fifth Patriots player to opt out of the 2020 season. Running back Brandon Bolden will also not play in 2020, per Giardi. Right tackle Marcus Cannon, fullback Danny Vitale and guard Najee Toran also opted out.

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