Today marks the five-year anniversary of Winston Justice's first NFL start. Eagles fans can only pray the Giants don't observe the occasion.
With Tra Thomas ruled out for Sunday Night Football in New York in 2007, Justice was plugged in at left tackle. Nobody could have predicted exactly what happened next. Donovan McNabb would get sacked 12 times in one game -- six of those by Osi Umenyiora alone -- as the second-year offensive lineman turned out to be as effective at protecting the quarterback as a drive thru. Philadelphia lost 16-3.
Back to 2012. With Jason Peters already on the shelf, and King Dunlap nursing a hamstring injury for the second week in a row, the Eagles are down to their third left tackle heading into tonight's tilt with the G-men. Jason Pierre-Paul must be licking his chops.
Demetress Bell is making his second start for the Birds, and while he was initially brought in to take over for Peters, his performance has done little to instill confidence. Bell lost the job to Dunlap during training camp, and did not look worlds better last week in Arizona.
Enter the vaunted Giants pass rush, and there is a chance it could get ugly again. Pierre-Paul is one of the most dangerous defenders in the league, he of the 16.5 sacks a season ago, and the ghost of Umenyiora is still hanging around as well. The Eagles have had noted problems in protection, and as we mentioned on Saturday, New York defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has had success pressuring Michael Vick.
Also of note, Jamar Chaney will get the start at weakside linebacker for Akeem Jordan, who is also out with a hamstring. Long snapper Jon Dorenbos is questionable.
The Eagles are also catching a few breaks, namely the absence of Hakeem Nicks. Nicks has been battling a foot injury, which has led to Eli Manning throwing a lot of passes to special teamers like Ramses Barden. That may fly against the Carolina Panthers, but the Bardens and Domenik Hixons of the world might find there's less room to work against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha.
Also out for New York are cornerback Corey Webster and right tackle David Diehl. Webster's absence is further bad news for a depleted secondary that could also be missing Antrel Rolle and Michael Coe, both of whom are questionable. Backup Sean Locklear will fill in for Diehl, and he'll be tasked with keeping Jason Babin from crawling all over Eli's back.