Sunday, December 28, 2014

So Far, No Right Answer for Birds

Winston Justice said he wasn't aware that the return of Reggie Wells had to do with the Eagles wanting Wells to compete for the right tackle spot, until a reporter asked him about that today.

So Far, No Right Answer for Birds

Winston Justice had arthroscopic knee surgery in February. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Winston Justice had arthroscopic knee surgery in February. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Winston Justice said he wasn't aware that the return of Reggie Wells had to do with the Eagles wanting Wells to compete for the right tackle spot, until a reporter asked him about that today.

"Didn't know that," Justice said. A reporter observed that there are more than a few competitors there. "Yeah," Justice said.

The unexpected signing of Wells, a deep sub guard for last year's team, adds another layer of uncertainty to the right tackle situation, where Justice is the returning starter. Justice confirmed today that he still experiences pain in his repaired knee, which Eagles coach Andy Reid said Justice can't plant on as well as he can his other knee.

King Dunlap lined up with the starting offensive line for today's practice. Ryan Harris, who seemed to have the inside track on the starting job when he signed earlier this month, sat out with the back problem that has pretty much taken him off the board, even though Harris was able to practice Saturday, for the first time since playing in the preseason opener.

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"I don't know, and that's basically where I'm at right now," Justice said, when asked if he will be able to start the season Sept. 11, when the Eagles visit the Rams. "I feel that I'm getting better every day, taking it day by day."

Does Justice get a chance to start when he is healthy, or will he have to take a back seat to whomever emerges from the preseason competition?

"I don't know," Justice said.

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said he felt Dunlap generally played well Thursday against the Steelers. Mornhinweg agreed with a questioner that left guard Todd Herremans is capable of playing right tackle, but there is no sign of that happening.

"We'll see with Winston," Mornhinweg said. "When he's ready, we'll see. He's not quite ready yet. I think he's getting a little bit closer as the days go by here."

***

Strongside linebacker Jamar Chaney confirmed that he has buried the hatchet with Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster, who dived into the back of Chaney's legs well after the whistle during last Thursday's game. Foster was not penalized.

"I don't think he did it intentionally," Chaney said today. "It looked like it on film. It is what it is. It won't help me to be mad about it ... We don't play the Steelers any more unless we make it to the Super Bowl and we make it too."

Chaney said he and Foster spoke via direct message on Twitter.

"He just told me it wasn't intentional, he wasn't trying to hurt me .. (that) it wasn't as it looked on film."

"It scared me; I didn't know it was like that until I watched it on film ... I didn't know it was that far after the whistle."

Chaney was asked if he thought Foster should be fined.

"That's up to the league, but I'm pretty sure if that was a defensive player hitting an offensive player, they would be fined," he said. "Just like (Ndamukong) Suh got fined."

***

Jamaal Jackson declined to speak with reporters today about the fact that sixth-round rookie Jason Kelce is scheduled to take all the first-team reps this week, in preparation for the preseason game Thursday against the Browns. This is the third preseason game, the one in which the "real" starters tend to get their most extensive work.

"Jamaal's a great guy. Jamaal really makes you comfortable," Kelce said. "He wants to be out there, obviously, but he understands they're trying to make the team the best, and he's been hurt the last couple of years, something happens to him again, somebody's got to step in."

Kelce stuck to that line of thinking -- that he is in the mix, or is being groomed as a possible injury replacement, not that he is taking Jackson's job.

"I don't think I'm any closer this week than I've been since the first preseason game," he said. "They want to see what they've got. They haven't told me anything other than that"

Kelce said offensive line coach Howard Mudd called him Friday night and told him of the move; Jackson had played with the starters in Pittsburgh, though Kelce had gotten lots of first-team reps at Lehigh.

"I was surprised when he told me. He said, 'this is your time to show us what you've got. Just make sure you go out there and do what you're supposed to do' " 

Marty Mornhinweg said today: "It's not over, there's competition. You have to allow an opportunity to see ... what that player can do ... sometimes the player grabs that opportunity and gets better daily. Sometimes it takes a little longer than that."

**

To read our earlier post, including Juan Castillo's thoughts on the young linebackers, click here.

Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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