Eagles starting right tackle Winston Justice will write a weekly column for the Daily News to provide his insights into the team. His columns will usually run Wednesdays.
Have a question for Winston? Send your question along with your name and hometown to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winston will answer the best of those submitted in future columns.
IN THE NFL, no team plans to lose. Sunday's loss to the Chargers was tough. After starting off slow and battling back in the second half, I feel as an offense we ran out of time and didn't get the job done. Our job as a team is to execute, and we came up short. There are no excuses for that.
Reporters and fans have been asking if the recent wave of injuries has hurt our team, and I say no.
As players at this level, we have to be and are ready to step up and play as well, if not better, than the starters. There is a lot of uncertainty in such a physical game. There is no guarantee that a player who is practicing during the week is able to play on Sunday. We have to be ready for that, as well as a number of other contingencies. The coaches prepare us in advance for these last-minute decisions.
On the o-line, Jason Peters wasn't able to play last week because of an ankle injury and Todd Herremans stepped up and did a great job.
This season I have played next to three different guards, each having his own unique technique and body structure. These game-to-game changes require my position to make minor adjustments depending on who is playing at a particular time. These changes are not demanding and all are a part of adapting to every game. Whether it is Stacy Andrews, Nick Cole or Max Jean-Gilles at guard, these adjustments are all part of harmonizing and gelling together as an offensive line.
One thing about the NFL is you have to possess a short memory. You can't be thinking about the Chargers when you have to move on to the Bears. We take our losses somberly and learn from them, which is critical to improvement.
Q & A
Last week, I asked for any questions or comments from readers. And I wanted to thank all of you who wrote in. Although I can't answer every question, I appreciate your time and support.
I was wondering if you could compare the style of ball you played at USC to the NFL and the Eagles? What was the toughest adjustment you had to make to the pro game? I admire what you have accomplished with the Eagles. You have proved that good things happen when you add hard work and faith to each day. Thanks, Jeff from Sewell, N.J.
A lot of times in college you can just rely on your athletic ability to get the job done. In the NFL, however, to just get to this level, everyone has to be even more than just a superior athlete, so athleticism alone won't suffice. You really have to pay attention more to your personal technique.
And, in that regard, I have been blessed at the Eagles with o-line coach Juan Castillo, who strongly emphasizes and teaches technique. Technique for an offensive lineman, among other things, includes footwork, hand placement and vertical and horizontal leverage.
Another adjustment is the amount of time that goes into studying yourself and the opponent on film. It is actually a full-time job as opposed to a couple hours after class.
One of the most important changes I went through from USC to the Eagles is that I learned to rely not on myself, but on my faith. As I said last week, I learned that it's not about me. God has blessed me with talents that rise above achieving fame and fortune. And I am grateful that football is my way of expressing this.