- Phil Sheridan, ESPN Staff Writer
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After his breakout 2013 season, Foles was selected to play in the Pro Bowl. Leading up to the game, he spent time practicing and socializing with quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.
"I felt really comfortable," Foles said recently. "It wasn't one of those things where I was pumping my chest out or anything. I just felt comfortable. When I was throwing, I was just myself. I wasn't going to try to outdo anyone because everybody has their different strengths. But definitely a comfort zone. I felt natural.
"At the end of the day, those guys, they're megastars, but they're just guys. They're really just good guys. On the way back from the game, I sat next to Drew, and I've watched Drew since I was in high school, but we just had as normal a conversation as you would have with one of your buddies, just catching up, getting to know him a little more, talking about different things. It was just normal.
The Philadelphia Eagles are counting on Foles to feel comfortable as an elite NFL quarterback. Last season, while throwing for 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions, Foles did more than lead the NFL with a 119.2 passer rating. He made Michael Vick expendable and took a firm grip of the quarterback job in coach Chip Kelly’s innovative offense.
Foles' performance earned him a debut appearance on ESPN's NFLRank list. That places him in the same company he enjoyed during his Pro Bowl experience. Now the challenge is to prove he belongs, just as he did by earning MVP honors in the Pro Bowl.
"I think the big thing is it makes it easy," Foles said. "I've been around my teammates for a couple years now, and the O-line. So when I get in the huddle, it's not what I've done in the past. Like I don't even feel like I played in the Pro Bowl. I just felt like that was something I was amazed by. It just doesn't feel real. I don't even think about it."
Foles, 25, knows that last season's achievements look nice on a shelf somewhere. They won't mean anything once the games this season start to count.
"I guess I was just zoning it out because I don't want to think about it, because I know what happens when you start thinking about all the accolades," Foles said. "You start thinking you're unstoppable and then bad things happen. But where my comfort comes from is knowing my teammates. Those are my buddies."
At the same time, those teammates are counting on Foles to be the quarterback who tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes in Oakland last season. They need him to be the guy who led them to the NFC East title by going 7-1 in the second half of the season.
"I know this year, people are going to recognize and realize that we did that, and they’re going to be even more ready," Foles said. "I don't even think about it. I'm really hard on myself when it comes to practicing. I hate making an INT or a bad throw or something. I just learn to play the next play, so when it comes to the pressure or whatever it was that I did last year, I just know that I've got to continue to work, and work smart and work hard to give me an opportunity to play at a high level this coming season. I know I say it over and over again, but all those throws that happened last year, the TDs, whatever, it does absolutely nothing. In my mind, I want to do even better."
To Foles' credit, that won't be easy.