Evan Mathis walked off the practice field and heard the news that he was named to the NFL's All-Pro team and smiled. He was thrilled. He was excited. He felt gratification and appreciation.
And five minutes later he was right back into "game" mode, thinking about the Wild Card Playoff Game Saturday night against the New Orleans Saints.
"It's great to receive the recognition and it's truly humbling," said Mathis, who signed with the Eagles prior to the 2011 season. "I give a lot of credit to the coaches and my teammates who helped make this thing possible. I know it's an individual award, but you couldn't do it without the guys around you. It's a good feeling, but I'm not going to enjoy it too long because we've got things to do."
Mathis was one of three Eagles named to the league's first-team All-Pro team, as voted on by the Associated Press. Running back LeSean McCoy, who won the league's rushing title and gained the most yards from scrimmage in the league, was named for the second time (2011) and left tackle Jason Peters, named to the second team in 2010 and first team in 2011, gained his third spot on the team in his great career.
"It's an honor to be here to play with my teammates and work hard," said McCoy. "It's an honor, not just for us three, but as a group. Each week we come here, prepare hard and play our best. We're honored to be All-Pro players."
Said Peters: "This is a very great honor. To come back this year off of injury and to make the Pro Bowl and now to make first-team All-Pro and we're in the playoffs, it feels real good."
The game isn't about earning individual awards, of course, and all three players made sure to point out that the mission is to beat New Orleans on Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Still, being recognized among the peer group in the NFL is something special.
"It is," said McCoy. "It says a lot about what they think about our game."
Peters has made six Pro Bowls and now has been on three All-Pro teams, and his list of accolades is reaching rarified air.
"I never take it for granted," he said. "I work hard and that's what you work hard in the off-season for. All I know is that if you work hard as an individual, the team is going to be better. Any individual goal is going to make the team better, and I'm all for that."
Mathis, bypassed for the Pro Bowl once again even though he has played outstanding football, has found the perfect match in Philadelphia. He's been a terrific contributor to the offense in his three seasons with two different offensive line coaches.
Now he's no longer doing it in relative anonymity. Now Mathis is an All-Pro player.
"For my position, the guard play is probably going to average 1,000 snaps during a season. There is much more interesting and fun play to watch when you are watching the game. So it's really hard to focus on the guard play and to have people realize who is doing well and who is not doing well when it comes to guard play," said Mathis. "It's a good feeling. I wasn't really expecting it. Hoping for it, but not expecting it. We've got a game tomorrow, so I'm focused on the Saints.