Fletcher Cox is heading back to the Pro Bowl.
The Eagles' best defensive player is one of two Eagles to be named to this year's Pro Bowl, along with offensive tackle Jason Peters.
Until last season, praise was slow to come for Cox, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2012. But last year he was named to his first Pro Bowl and has been a second-team All-Pro player for the last two years.
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“It’s an honor. It was definitely different," Cox said about being named to his second Pro Bowl. "It was just surprising with the year I've had, the ups and downs, that I made it. I just kept pushing. We were trying to get this team in a better position to make it to the playoffs. At this point, we're officially eliminated from the playoffs, so I'll look forward to going to the Pro Bowl and getting a chance to compete again.”
Cox, 26, is fifth among defensive tackles with 6½ sacks in 2016, trailing just Geno Atkins (7½), Aaron Donald (7), Gerald McCoy (7) and Leonard Williams (7).
While he's been able to pick up 2½ sacks in the last two weeks, Cox went eight straight weeks without a sack before that. This season, he's seen plenty of double- and triple-teams from opponents.
"I think I started off hot and I hit a little slump, where I wasn't getting to the quarterback," Cox said earlier on Tuesday. "But now, the last couple of weeks, I've been able to find a way to get the quarterback on the ground. And now I'm just going to take these last two games to just focus on doing what I need to do to help this team win."
In his five years in the league so far, Cox has accumulated 28½ sacks, which already ranks him fifth all-time for Eagles' interior linemen. Since he entered the league in 2012, Cox ranks 10th among defensive tackles in sacks.
But it's hard to judge Cox's game on sacks alone. The attention he warrants and the other plays he makes contribute to his game. He has 10 tackles for loss this season and has 41½ since entering the league.
Cox was rewarded this offseason with a monster six-year contract worth $102 million and $63 million guaranteed. That's a ton of money to give to an interior lineman, but Cox has played well in his first season since getting the new deal.
“Staying humble has been the key throughout the whole process," he said. "At any point, if you get too comfortable, that's when you start to lose that edge. If you have the right demeanor and the right attitude, the positive vibe will take you a long way.”
Defensive end Brandon Graham, who has been the Eagles' most disruptive edge rusher this season and is second on the team with 5½ sacks, is a first-alternate for the NFC team.
This year's Pro Bowl will be played in Orlando on Jan. 29 and will return to the traditional format of AFC vs. NFC.