WHEN THE NFL announced its Pro Bowl rosters on Wednesday night, Eagles kicker Alex Henery contemplated with curiosity.
"I watched with outside hope," Henery admitted. "I kind of figured it wasn't going to come, though."
Aside from guard Evan Mathis, whom offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called the "last man standing" on the Birds' battered offensive line, Henery figured to be the Eagles' best shot at a Pro Bowl nod.
Henery, 25, was the Eagles' most valuable player on offense this season. While it's true that might not say much, Henery did set a new franchise record for consecutive field goals made (22), which was also the NFL's longest active streak until it was snapped in Week 14 against Tampa Bay.
Alas, Henery was left off the list. Mathis was named as a third alternate at guard. The Eagles were one of eight teams to not be represented; it was the first time in 14 years (1998) that Philadelphia did not place a player on the roster. Somehow, Kansas City (2-13) is sending five players.
"Hitting the long ones and hitting the game-winners, it puts you in a category as elite," special-teams coordinator Bobby April said Thursday. "He can hit them. He just hasn't been in position [to make a defining kick]. He just hasn't had the opportunity, so I think that's kind of kept him out of there."
Minnesota rookie Blair Walsh is representing the NFC. Cleveland veteran Phil Dawson, 37, is making his first appearance in the Pro Bowl for the AFC. Both kickers netted significantly better numbers than Henery.
As April said, Henery did not have the opportunity to "wow" Pro Bowl voters in clutch situations. Henery has never "wowed" anyone with his leg strength, rather his consistency is what has carried him to the NFL. Henery set an NCAA record by hitting 89.5 percent of his career field-goal attempts.
Walsh, 22, has nailed nine straight attempts this season over 50 yards. Henery's season-long was 49 yards, the only member of the NFL's top 30 kickers to not break the 50-yard mark. Walsh hit three 50-yarders in one game alone this year.
Dawson was 28-for-29 on field goal attempts - a league-best 96.6 percent success rate - which netted the Browns 112 points when you factor in his 28 PATs. Henery also had a missed extra-point blemish on his record this year, an errant boot neither Walsh nor Dawson committed.
Henery said he felt his kickoffs were better this year, though he still ranked tied for 23rd with 26 touchbacks through the first 16 weeks of the season.
"I think those kickers that made it definitely earned it," Henery said. "It takes trust from a coach to be able to go in and make long field goals. Missing a deep kick might be really damaging as far as field position goes. I think you take whatever you get, the opportunity has to come. You take whatever kick you have at the moment."
Rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks has not been ruled out for Sunday's finale against the Giants, but his season is over, for all intents and purposes. Kendricks said Thursday that he is only on Phase 2 of the NFL's five-step concussion protocol.
Kendricks knew something was wrong when he felt numb after colliding with teammate Phillip Hunt on play. He remained sensitive to light on Thursday and did not participate in practice. This is Kendricks' first career concussion, at the pro, college or high school level.
Kendricks, 22, was one game away from becoming just the fourth Eagles defensive player in franchise history to start all 16 games as a rookie - and the first since Corey Simon in 2000. Thursday offered an opportunity to assess his first NFL season.
"Individually, I feel I did well," Kendricks said. "I think when I look back on my first game, I realize how much things have slowed down for me. The skill of the game, the speed of the game is the same. I just realize what's going on a whole lot faster."
He credited DeMeco Ryans, another possible Pro Bowler, for guiding him through an up-and-down year. Kendricks was impressive on the weak side for the first four games of the season before regressing dramatically. His play improved again in the final 3 weeks.
Kendricks finished with 65 tackles, 1 sack, 1 quarterback hit, 1 quarterback hurry, 38 solo defensive stops and 14 missed tackles.
"Being here, being in the league, I learned so much from him on and off the field," Kendricks said of Ryans. "He's out there talking the whole time. Leading a defense, your head is running around so much. Next year, hopefully I will be calling out my own stuff when I see it. I need to set my bar higher for next year. I want to accomplish a lot more, as a leader. It's definitely my time to kick it up."