Evan Mathis has had a busy offseason. After signing with the Eagles last summer and impressing as the starting left guard for 15 games, Mathis hit the free agent market as a hot commodity. Despite a slew of suitors, the 30-year-old Mathis chose to return to Philadelphia, where he could continue his career resurgence. Oh, and he also welcomed his first child, daughter Lee Ila, into the world shortly thereafter. So you could excuse Mathis if he wanted some time off before getting back into the football grind; luckily for Eagles fans and Mathis' teammates, that's not the case.
"I've been getting a little antsy sitting around not doing anything," said Mathis. "I'm looking forward to getting back on the field and getting it going.
"For me, it always depends on how I feel coming out of the previous season. This past year, I felt great. I took like a week off before I was back working out hard. After about a month or two, you start wanting to get on the field and do something and at this point in my career, it's like getting back on the field I was out there yesterday. It's like clockwork."
That passion for his job fits in well with an Eagles offensive line that should be on the upswing in 2012, even after an impressive 2011 season. Yes, the Eagles likely won't have the services of All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters. But Demetress Bell is a talented young player, Mathis is entering his second season in the Eagles system, Jason Kelce and Danny Watkins are in the midst of their first NFL offseason and Todd Herremans will have the full spring and summer to perfect his craft at right tackle for the first time.
"There should be (a jump)," Mathis said. "Experience goes a long way in the NFL and I think we all made plenty of strides last year. With as much talent as we have on the offensive line, there's still so much more that we can do. We have a special group of guys and we're looking forward to making the most out of this year.
"If you look at it that way, we're way ahead of the curve as opposed to last year. Last year, I signed here like July 31, then I missed the first few days in training camp, then we're just in it rolling, shuffling around, not knowing much. This offseason, we're returning four of the five starters, we have a very talented guy in Demetress Bell playing left tackle and we're already out there working as a unit with Eugene (Chung) and (offensive line coach) Howard (Mudd), when he's here, and we're just taking care of business, trying to get better every day."
Also working on Mathis' side is his offseason work ethic. The player whom ProFootballFocus ranked as the best guard in the NFL in 2011 owns a gym in Arizona where he makes his offseason home. Last year, during the work stoppage, he transformed his body in preparation for the 2011 season.
"If you take care of yourself in the offseason, take care of your body, then it's definitely more suited to take the punishment during the season," he said. "If you're not taking care of yourself, your body can be weaker, your joints weaker, and you're more susceptible to injury. I'm going to keep taking care of my body. ... Sometimes it's just luck and timing, but you've got to do your part to take care of your body.
"I set my goals very high going into last season. I made the most of it. Things went pretty well, I got the long-term deal and I'll never forget what I did to get here and it's the same thing I'll do moving forward - work hard every day, always strive to get better and keep moving forward."
If all goes according to plan, the same will hold true for the entire offensive line in 2012.
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