PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jason Kelce, Connor Barwin and Darren Sproles are going to their first Pro Bowl one month after their season ends sooner than expected.
The trio of Philadelphia Eagles along with teammates Jason Peters and LeSean McCoy were hoping to skip this year's NFL all-star game to play in the Super Bowl. That was a possibility until three straight losses knocked Philadelphia (9-6) out of the playoff race.
So, most of the Eagles are heading home after Sunday's season finale at the New York Giants. The five Pro Bowl players get one more game.
"I think that it's obviously a tremendous honor to be voted into the Pro Bowl," said Kelce, a center who missed four games because of surgery for a sports hernia. "It doesn't change the fact that the season's very frustrating, and for me personally I don't put too much of a huge deal onto this. I think these individual accolades really, in the grand scheme of things, don't mean too much."
Barwin heads into the final game leading the NFC with 14 1/2 sacks. He's the first Eagles linebacker to earn a Pro Bowl berth since Jeremiah Trotter in 2005 and is the only player on the defense going. Defensive end Fletcher Cox had an outstanding year, but didn't get enough recognition because he doesn't accumulate sacks.
The honor for Barwin doesn't lessen the sting of missing the playoffs.
"This obviously isn't the goal for us," he said. "Hopefully next year we can be an even better defense and a couple of more guys can be recognized in the Pro Bowl."
Sproles waited 10 years to earn his first trip to the Pro Bowl. The versatile running back earned a spot as returner by leading the league in punt return average (13.7) and scoring two touchdowns on punt returns.
"This is the first time I've ever been on a team where special teams made such a huge impact," Sproles said about being a part of a unit that combined for six TDs this season. "I feel like this team has players who take pride in it. And talent too. I think it's those two things that have made us so good."
The Pro Bowl will be played on Jan. 25 in Glendale, Arizona, site of the Super Bowl. Players from the teams that win conference championships don't play in the game.
"It doesn't mean as much as going to the Super Bowl, but it is an honor though," Sproles said.
For McCoy, the honor means something because he was criticized this season when he struggled through an early slump. Some even wondered if the two-time All-Pro had lost a step just one year after setting a franchise record for yards rushing and leading the NFL.
"It's so hard to get in, especially after this hard season, it's ups and downs," McCoy said. "I'm happy for my linemen to help me get in and it's truly an honor."
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