Philadelphia Eagles News

Heckert: We Always Had Confidence In Justice

Winston Justice won a national championship and blocked for three Heisman Trophy winners while at USC. It was certainly not a surprise that the Eagles moved up in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft to secure the services of the 6-6, 320-pound bodyguard.

The Eagles moved Justice from right tackle to left tackle, which is where they envisioned him eventually filling the shoes of Tra Thomas, a three-time Pro Bowl tackle. Justice got his chance to start for an injured Thomas against the Giants in 2007 and he gave up four sacks, per head coach Andy Reid, as the Eagles lost.

Later that year, Justice was moved back to right tackle and he got a chance to play a significant amount of time against the Bills in the season finale. The Eagles were out of the playoff chase, so Justice's return to action went largely unnoticed.

Two years later, Justice has established himself as a quality starting right tackle. Jon Runyan was allowed to pursue free agency this past off-season. Shawn Andrews re-injured his back in training camp and was eventually placed on Injured Reserve. Justice seized the opportunity and has started all 10 games this season. His efforts were rewarded with a four-year contract extension on Tuesday. General manager Tom Heckert explained how the Eagles maintained their faith in Justice the entire time, even after the infamous Giants game.

"I know everybody talks about the Giants game, but we see him every day in practice," Heckert said. "You look throughout the league and the top left tackles, top right tackles, they get beat. It happens in the NFL. There was never a point where we said this guy can't play. We saw enough on tape in college and enough on tape in practices, in the preseason that we had faith in Winston. I think I mentioned last year, he had to come out and if he got the opportunity to play he had to prove that he could do it and line up against the top guys and be productive and he's done that this year."

Heckert said that Justice took advantage of offensive line coach Juan Castillo's help in the off-season and it made a big difference in the tackle's play.

"We knew he and Juan worked in the whole off-season and this was really the first year he's stayed here the whole time and I think there's something to that," Heckert said. "Juan gets a chance to work with you every day and it's obviously something, especially younger players need to do."

The Eagles saw enough of Justice in training camp and the preseason to allow them to feel comfortable going into the season with him as the starting right tackle.

"We still had confidence in him and obviously when things didn't work out well with Shawn we felt Winston was the guy that we would stick in there and play with and it's worked out well," Heckert said.

Justice and center Jamaal Jackson are the only two players on the offensive line to start all 10 games at the same spot this season for the Eagles.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 5:17 p.m., November 24

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content