With Cody Parkey's addition to the Pro Bowl roster on Monday, nine Eagles have been selected to the NFL's all-star game ...
Left guard Evan Mathis is officially heading back to the Pro Bowl for the second straight season. After being named a second alternate for this year's game, just as he was last year, he was named to the team Wednesday in lieu of New Orleans Saints guard Jahri Evans, who is unable to participate because of an injury.
This year's Pro Bowl is being held in Glendale, Arizona, the home of the Cardinals. While the rest of Mathis' teammates will have to fly in from different locales, Mathis isn't too worried about the trip to the Southwest.
He's already there.
After the season ended, Mathis flew back to Scottsdale, where he founded his Zone Athletic Performance gym and where he lives during the offseason.
Luckily for Mathis, the University of Phoenix Stadium where the Pro Bowl is being held is just a 32 minute drive from his gym.
"It'll be a very short drive," Mathis said with a laugh. He joked about dragging his teammates - tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce, running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles and linebacker Connor Barwin - to his gym so they could get in an extra workout during their trip.
The veteran guard's performance this year was no laughing matter, though. He suffered a knee injury in the Eagles' season-opening win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was placed on Injured Reserve - Designated For Return, and came back with a vengeance in Week 10 against the Carolina Panthers.
In his eight games after returning from the injury, Mathis put together an exceptional half-season. He recorded a positive grade from Pro Football Focus in all eight games and finished the season ranked as the second-best guard in the NFL while appearing in just nine games. The latter is even more impressive when you consider that those grades run on a cumulative basis. Mathis was the only guard in the Top 25 graded at the position to play fewer than 10 games.
Mathis said he had to make sure that he stayed focused when he went was rehabbing from the injury. He didn't want to lose ground on what had been a career year in 2013.
"I had to stay in tune to the game, mentally," he explained. "I had to keep my focus when I was on the sideline. I had to work really hard during rehab, and strengthen everything that needed to be strengthened, keep my conditioning where it needed to be.
"When I came back, I thought I hit the ground running, and it wasn't long before I was back to 100 percent."
His focus and preparation showed on the field, and now he's heading to Arizona, along with his five teammates. Mathis said he appreciates the fact that three offensive linemen and two running backs from the team are being recognized together, because it highlights how much they've worked together for their success.
"It's great," he said. "We all owe it to each other that we're able to make it, because football is the ultimate team sport, and the way we complement each other and help each other out is really the reason for our success, individually and as a team."
And the 33-year-old guard said he's excited for the experience, spending a little extra time with his teammates after the season ended.
"It'll be great to be able to attend everything with my teammates, all the guys who made it," Mathis said. "I think we'll have a good time out there."
Or, for Mathis, just next door.