Winston Justice: Mind games & trash talking, with opponents and teammates

Posted: September 22, 2010

Eagles right tackle Winston Justice is writing a column for the Daily News again this season. His columns appears Wednesdays.

A WIN IN THE NFL always feels good. But, immediately after the game you are constantly riddled with things you could have done better. Detroit's win was somewhat bittersweet. We came out of it with the "W," but we all know we need to improve.

On the field and in game preparations, there are both the mental and physical aspects of the game. I think it is about 95 percent mental and 5 percent physical. Everything starts with a thought. At this level, we know that everyone is good. To be in the NFL you have to be physically gifted, but you need to know the plays, you need to know where to put your hands, your feet and all of those little mental aspects. It's also important to block out the commentary from your opponent on the field.

Conversations between players on the field can be quite interesting. Most guys I go up against like to put down the school I went to. They try to get in your head with the usual "USC sucks." Some complain constantly throughout the game, to stop putting my hands in their face. Some don't say anything at all and try to avoid eye contact.

Quite frankly, it's comical when they try to make fun of my teammates or myself. I often feel bad for Nick Cole, who gets made fun of every game. No matter who we play, guys like to bring up his height and roundness. Even though Nick is 6-1, standing next to a 6-6 tackle and a 6-4 center doesn't really help his case. Last week, Vanden Bosch called him "the stump." That made me chuckle. I have to give credit to Nick though, he always has great comebacks. I've heard him and others toss around names like, "juice head," "old man," and "how'd you like that" in regards to the last play. Nick Cole and Mike McGlynn are the biggest talkers on the line, whereas the rest of us don't say much.

Sometimes the best banter comes amongst each other during practice. We don't just compete on Sundays - we taunt each other every day. It's another form of flattery between players. Fortunately, there are no personal-foul flags during the week. Amongst the guys on the offensive line, we like to signal out one guy on the defense to go after in practice. Giving him an extra push around the field gives us something to laugh about in the huddle and when we watch it on film that afternoon. For some reason, Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims are always on the top of that list.

Next Sunday, we all need to perform better. The thing about mental preparations, they don't just happen over night. Maturation and growth can be harder to lift than weights. Having a young team means we have to work on it. We have to develop our ability to read offenses and defenses, when some don't have the experience behind us.

With McGlynn at center the line calls do not change. It's just the ability to read the defense. Like I said before, next to quarterback, center is the toughest position on the offense. It takes practice and game time experience to tell where the blitz is coming from and what type of blitz it is.

Question of the week

Thanks to everyone who wrote in. I appreciate your support! Please keep your questions coming.

Don wrote in and asked, when do you start mentally preparing yourself for the next game?

Personally, as soon as the game is over, I immediately begin focusing on the next opponent. As a team, we don't start the film or practice sessions until Wednesday. As most of you know, if we win on Sunday, we usually have Monday off and Tuesday is traditionally the players day off around the NFL. Most of us still go in on off days to lift and watch film to get a step ahead.

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