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Better late than never for Justice in return to Eagles lineup

WINSTON JUSTICE will return and start at right tackle Sunday night. King Dunlap kept his seat warm, nicely - a role Dunlap now has played twice.

WINSTON JUSTICE will return and start at right tackle Sunday night.

King Dunlap kept his seat warm, nicely - a role Dunlap now has played twice.

On Tuesday, Justice worked out with assistant strength coach Eugene Chung to determine if Justice finally could stand up to a bull rush.

Justice passed that test.

"He had lateral quickness before. It was just being able to plant on it for the run game and the bull rush. And he's good to go," said coach Andy Reid. "King did a heck of a job. King's really coming off of two very, very good games against good players, so that's a nice situation to have right there."

"I thought I was OK before," Justice grumbled.

Now that he has a job, Justice is territorial.

Justice inherited his job last year when the Shawn Andrews Experience went bad. He played remarkably well, perhaps better than any lineman who played the whole season. Justice's value only increased when the Eagles took the starting quarterback job from righthanded Kevin Kolb and gave it to lefty Michael Vick after seven games. It meant that Justice would be protecting Vick's blind side.

There was considerable consternation, then, when Justice hyperextended his knee late in a win over Houston on Dec. 2. The Eagles knew he would miss a couple of games - crucial NFC East games against the Cowboys and Giants. Dunlap, a left tackle at Auburn, had started twice in October in place of left tackle Jason Peters.

No problem.

The Eagles won both games. Against vicious defensive lines, Vick was sacked five times . . . but he threw five touchdown passes.

"I did all right," Dunlap said. "We won. I made a couple of mistakes, a couple of mental mistakes every now and then. You minimize them. I felt like I did all right."

"I thought he did a great job," Justice said. "Both playing for Jason Peters and playing for me."

Then again, Justice didn't think it was absolutely necessary for Dunlap to play the past 2 weeks.

"I tried to get out there the past couple of weeks but they kept saying, 'No. No.' They said 'Yes' this week," Justice said. "Some players will play through anything. I'm one of those players. I felt I could play."

His coaches felt he would hinder the offense too much.

"Sometimes, the coaches protect you from yourself. A lot of coaching staffs don't do that," Justice said. "I guess I'm blessed to have one that does."

A second-round pick in 2006, Justice was virtually assured a chance like he got last season.

A seventh-round pick in 2008, Dunlap was assured of nothing. His draft stock plummeted his senior season. He spent 2008 on injured reserve with an ankle injury.

Now, he's got a little bit of accomplishment on his resume.

The Eagles beat Atlanta when Dunlap started at left tackle. Kolb was sacked just once and had a 133.6 passer rating. His start the next week at Tennessee ended in the third quarter, a game in which Kolb also was sacked just once. Dunlap was out with a hyperextended knee before the Eagles' demoralizing collapse.

"I'm glad I got a chance to play left. I wanted a chance to play right a couple of games. Showing I can play on both sides definitely didn't hurt," Dunlap said. "Hopefully, down the road, it will be a good thing."