It will no doubt still be a letdown for a few of the five Eagles selected to the 2020 Pro Bowl, the NFL’s annual all-star game that will take place at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 3 p.m. (ESPN).
Playing in the Pro Bowl is an honor, no doubt. It means the player has been chosen by fans, coaches and the players themselves as the best of the best. It’s great, but it’s not the Super Bowl.
“I think everybody here at the Pro Bowl has a little bit of a sour taste in their mouth that they’re not playing next week,” Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said last year, after the Birds were eliminated from the playoffs by the New Orleans Saints, ending their brief reign as Super Bowl champions. “But all of us would trade a Pro Bowl in a second to obviously be in the Super Bowl.”
Three Eagles could play in the game Sunday, including center Jason Kelce, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and long snapper Rick Lovato. Guard Brandon Brooks and tight end Zach Ertz suffered injuries at the end of the season and will certainly not play.
The NFL sponsors many events during the week leading up to the Pro Bowl, including players taking part in skills competitions, dodge ball and community events. Much of the festivities available to fans, including AFC and NFC practices, take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. Go to NFL.com for more information.
More Eagles could be added if other NFC players drop out because of their team making it to the Super Bowl or because of injury.
Right now, the Eagles on the Pro Bowl roster are:
• Fletcher Cox: The defensive tackle is making his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl appearance. That marks the most selections by a defensive tackle in Eagles history. The 29-year-old is now tied for seventh in Pro Bowl appearances in Eagles history. Only two Eagles (Reggie White, Pete Pihos) made more consecutive Pro Bowls.
Cox had just 3.5 quarterback sacks this season, but was a big part of the Eagles’ run to capture the NFC East championship. Cox helped the Birds rank third in the NFL in run defense, allowing just 90.4 yards per game.
• For center Jason Kelce, this is his third Pro Bowl selection and his first since the 2016 season. The three all-star selections have the 32-year-old tied for most Pro Bowls by a center in Eagles history.
Kelce is also a two-time All-Pro player. Considered one of the game’s toughest players, Kelce managed to be on the field for every offensive snap in 2019. Kelce is the only player on offense to do that this year.
• Long snapper Rick Lovato is making his first trip to the Pro Bowl.
On Dec. 18, 2016, Lovato was an unknown long snapper who made his Eagles debut in Baltimore. Lovato is now the leader of the kicking unit on special teams. His contract runs through 2023. Is it not a coincidence that Jake Elliott connected on 90.5 percent of his field goal attempts and punter Cameron Johnston was ranked in the top five in the league in both net and gross punting average in 2019?
• This year has been a bittersweet season for All-Pro guard Brandon Brooks. The 30-year-old battled back from a torn Achilles suffered in the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Saints last season and started the season as the Birds right guard. It was a remarkable feat hailed by many in the medical community as a near medical miracle.
Brooks was named the recipient of the Eagles’ 2019 Ed Block Courage Award.
Brooks played so well in 2019, Pro Football Focus listed him as the top offensive lineman in the NFL over the first half of the season.
The 6-foot-5, 335-pounder was rewarded with a four-year, $54.2 million contract extension through the 2024 season.
Things started to go downhill from there. Brooks missed the Dallas Cowboys game Dec. 22 after he became sick at the start of the game. Brooks suffers from a stress-related anxiety disorder that was diagnosed in 2016, which explained his vomit bouts only on game days, even after a stomach ulcer was treated.
Then, on Dec. 29, Brooks suffered a dislocated shoulder in the last regular season game against the New York Giants, forcing him to miss the playoff game against Seattle.
This is Brooks’ third consecutive Pro Bowl selection, the most by a guard in Eagles history.
Even with all his troubles, Brooks played in 92 percent of the offensive snaps in 2019, his fourth season with the Eagles.
• Tight end Zach Ertz showed tremendous resolve and courage, finding a way to play in the Eagles’ playoff game against the Seahawks after suffering severe rib and back injuries incurred during the Birds’ Dec. 22 game against the Cowboys. This is the third consecutive Pro Bowl selection for the 29-year old. He is tied for most selections by a tight end in Eagles history.
After setting the NFL all-time, single-season record for most catches by a tight end with 116 in 2018, Ertz was again one of the most productive at his position in the game with 84 receptions for 888 yards and six touchdowns. ••
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii