Jonathan Allen has been one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL this season. And on Wednesday night, his efforts this season were officially rewarded.
Allen, along with Rams star Aaron Donald, were named the two starting defensive tackles for the NFC in the 2022 Pro Bowl. The nod is the first time Allen has been selected to the NFL's annual All-Star game in his five-year career.
Speaking with the media on Thursday for the first time since being named a Pro Bowler, Allen detailed the various emotions he felt after getting the call from head coach Ron Rivera.
"Coach Rivera called and told me. I was surprised, I was excited, more relieved than anything," Allen said. "Obviously, it was a childhood dream to do that. I was very happy, blessed and honored to be able to say I'm going to the Pro Bowl."
Of all the words Allen used to describe his feelings, one stands out from the rest: relieved. Why?
"Because I thought I did everything I had to do to make it, but you just never know," Allen said. "You know what I mean? Just happy that it actually happened and I can stop thinking about it."
Allen makes a fair point. Every year, multiple players are snubbed from the Pro Bowl. This season is no different, as Austin Ekeler, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jordan Poyer, Matt Stafford and many others were all surprisingly left out. Simply put, Washington's defensive tackle is thankful he is not a part of that list.
"I think it gives me a little sense of validation," Allen said. "But now, the next challenge is to continue to play at a high level [and] not let my play drop. It's definitely a milestone that I accomplished and I'm proud of but definitely not satisfied yet."
Ever since his second year in the NFL, Allen has been one of the league's better defensive tackles. Yet, the 2021 season is the first time he's been considered among the elite at his position.
Asked what's different this season from his first four years as a pro, Allen pointed to his overall consistency.
Although Allen -- who signed a four-year, $72 million extension with the club this past offseason -- is certainly proud of being named a Pro Bowler, the team captain wants his high level of play to be the norm rather than the exception.
"My standards are always going to be my standards. It's definitely something I'm always going to try and achieve every year," Allen said. "But at the end of the day, I'm going to do what I've always done: play hard and try to do things the right way. If I get in, awesome. If I don't? It is what it is. I'm super appreciative to have that honor, but I'm going to continue what I've always done."