Eagles starting right tackle Winston Justice writes a weekly column for the Daily News to provide his insights into the team. His columns appear Wednesdays.
Have a question for Winston? Send your question along with your name and hometown to
Winston will answer the best of those submitted in future columns.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN are funny; they are always known as the ugly, overweight men. Nobody knows this more than us - so we take the opportunity to tease each other every chance we get.
It is true some of the guys on our line struggle with their weight, but every year we do have an inner competition to find out who has the lowest body fat. The man with the highest body fat, and I won't name any names but he occasionally plays next to me, will be ridiculed by the guys for the rest of the season. With every lineman weighing more than 310 pounds, the Eagles have one of the heaviest offensive lines in the NFL.
Part of our daily schedule includes 4 hours of meetings with position coach, Juan Castillo. Each day, we go over our practice film, game film and our opponent's defensive game film. Even in football you don't get away from studying and making presentations. Every week, coach Castillo has each lineman stand-up and give a presentation on the man they are up against on Sunday.
Meeting rooms are a funny place. As serious as film watching and studying gets, there is always room for laughter with 14 guys in their mid-20s. Last week, coach installed two automatically spraying, wall-mounted air fresheners. According to him, we had to clear out of the room too often, after some of the guys went to town on the lunchroom chili.
Pregame rituals are a part of most sports. Saturdays before the game, I eat two large pizzas and on Sunday mornings I attend the team chapel as a part of my game preparations.
Some of the other linemen also have their own routines. Each Sunday, Jamaal Jackson prays and takes the stickers off the inside of his gloves and puts them in his locker and then cuts the straps off his shoes before he heads out onto the field.
Max Jean-Gilles listens to the artist Pastor Troy before games. Todd Herremans always makes sure he tapes his left wrist before his right.
The team is already fired up for the Giants this weekend. The inner-conference rivalry between the two teams gets the guys emotional. With both teams coming off wins, Sunday's game should be a show.
Q & A
Everybody knows what a quarterback does and it's the same with receivers and running backs. But what the heck do linemen do? For example: I have heard that some defensive linemen and pass rushers can tell what play is coming by the way the offensive lineman sets up. Do you guys use fakes and things?
- Ron Harrington
Thank you, Ron. There is a lot that goes on with offensive linemen that the untrained eye often cannot see. Playing offensive and defensive line requires a lot of technique, strength and speed that fans normally can't notice on television. Quite frankly, sometimes I read the paper and even the reporters don't really understand the difference between a good and bad offensive line play. A lot of the time, defensive players can tell what the play is going to be just by the formation. Offensive linemen do use fakes. There are draw plays, screens, and sometimes on the backside of runs, offensive linemen can be in a 2-point stance, which would normally signify a pass play, that the coaches use to throw off defenses.
Out and about
If anyone wants to come out, I will be signing autographs at 7 p.m. next Monday (Dec. 14) at the West End Grill Restaurant, 201 12th St., Hammonton, N.J. I would love to meet all the fans and even answer your questions in person.