Thursday, December 12, 2013
Healthy Peters back in Pro Bowl form
By Phil Sheridan
PHILADELPHIA – For most of the season, Jason Peters appeared on the Philadelphia Eagles’ weekly injury report with what looked like a random list of body parts next to his name.
Fingers. Shoulder. Pectoral muscle.
What mattered, though, was the body part that never showed up on the list. Peters said his twice-ruptured, twice-repaired Achilles tendon has been pain-free.
Jason Peters was one of two Philadelphia offensive linemen to earn a Pro bowl nod in 2013.
“It feels like I never done it,” Peters said. “It never gets sore, none of that. I feel good every day I go out there.”
In order to play in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense, Peters dropped from 345 to 320 pounds. A happy by-product of that is less weight for his Achilles to bear.
“I feel as strong as I’ve ever felt,” Peters said. “I didn’t lose anything by losing the weight.”
Peters played with those various nagging injuries, never missing a start. If he hasn’t been as good as the Pro Bowl-caliber tackle he was before the Achilles cost him the 2012 season, it’s impossible to tell.
“I felt like I played pretty good the first three weeks,” Peters said. “I gave up one sack to [Kansas City’s Tamba] Hali and a couple pressures. Besides that, I think it took me a little while to get rolling, but after a couple weeks I settled and got it going.”
Hali’s sack of Michael Vick stood out because it was such a rare occurrence. Hali got by Peters with a speed rush. It turns out there was more going on than met the eye.
“I think Mike took a five-step drop,” Peters said. “I thought it was a shorter drop, a three-step drop. He just ran the edge and got me.”
Three months later, Peters still seems annoyed by the play.
“It bothered me a lot,” Peters said. “He didn’t really beat me. Bad technique. It made me better, humbled me to work harder the next week and the week after that.”
It was rare for Peters to appear in the locker room during the hour or so it is open to the media. Center Jason Kelce said Peters is quiet around strangers but warm and open around his teammates. Before every game, Peters is the player at the center of the Eagles’ final huddle before they return to the locker room for final preparations.
He is a presence, one the Eagles missed badly last season. Peters was the first domino to fall along the offensive line. By this time last year, Peters, Kelce and Todd Herremans were all gone.
This year, all five linemen have started every game. That goes a long way toward explaining why LeSean McCoy is leading the NFL in rushing and why Nick Foles has been able to perform at such a high level.
Those are the kinds of results that get offensive linemen sent to the Pro Bowl. Kelce and left guard Evan Mathis are both worthy of consideration for their first trips. For Peters, it would be the sixth selection.
“If I make it, I make it,” he said. “If I don’t, I don’t. I’ll just work harder next year to make [it]. It’s no big deal to me. I’ve got a couple under my belt. I’d rather just get to the playoffs and go deep into the playoffs.”
The Eagles have a chance to do just that, and the big man at left tackle is one of the reasons.