"That third preseason contest [against Cleveland] I was back at left guard and started to get an idea of where things were headed," Mathis said the other day. "Now I'm more where I want to start but we're nowhere near where we need to finish."
They're not even close. While the change was welcomed by Mathis, Herremans and almost universally by Eagles fans, it has only mildly tempered fears about the line and quarterback Michael Vick's protection.
Aside from a few practices, the starting five will not have played together as one heading into Sunday's regular season opener at the St. Louis Rams.
Left tackle Jason Peters is the only starter left over from last year's line. Rookies Danny Watkins and Jason Kelce are at right guard and center, Herremans is starting at right tackle for the first time in his career, and Mathis came virtually out of nowhere to claim left guard.
The seven-year journeyman showed up early in camp, but a few days after the Eagles signed free agents more well known. After his first practice, there was no podium news conference - like the one the Eagles had for Nnamdi Asomugha, Vince Young, Jason Babin, etc. - just a, "Hey, you can grab him off the field."
"People probably didn't expect anything out of me and they probably still don't know what to expect out of me," Mathis said. "But that's what I expect out them. They've never seen me play."
Mathis' career has been a mixed bag. Drafted by Carolina in the third round out of Alabama, he started 15 games at right guard by his second season. But he played very little the next year and was cut just before the 2008 season.
He bounced from Miami to Cincinnati that year and by 2009 started seven games at left guard with the Bengals. But again he was back on the bench the following year.
"I don't want to sit back and just practice and collect a paycheck," Mathis said. "I'm not wired mentally to do that. And I didn't get a chance to do that [in Cincinnati] for whatever the reason.
"So I'm relentless. I'm going to keep going. I'm going to ride this until the wheels fall off. The wheels are still good right now."
At 6-foot-5, 302 pounds, Mathis is a prototypical Howard Mudd lineman. It's safe to say he would have never landed with the Eagles if Mudd hadn't replaced Juan Castillo as the offensive line coach in the offseason.
"None of these guys had a rapport with [Mudd], so it was a pretty much a clean slate for everybody," Mathis said.
When Eagles general manager Howie Roseman assured the 29-year-old that the best five linemen would play, Mathis said, he signed with the Eagles. It didn't take long before he stood out.
"He's an excellent athlete, tough, physical guy and really smart," Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "And you need those things coming from somewhere else and into somebody else's camp to be able to show what he showed."
Mathis was briefly moved to backup right tackle, but guard has been his position of preference ever since he was moved there as a senior in college. He can play either side, a versatility he adopted when the Crimson Tide used to switch their linemen in between plays.
He also has NFL bloodlines. His uncle, Bob Baumhower, a two-time All-American defensive tackle for Alabama, was a member of the Dolphins' famous Killer B's defense of the 1970s.
Mathis is built more like a defensive tackle. But he fits the Mudd mold. Mammoth-sized guards like Mike McGlynn, Max Jean-Gilles and Nick Cole did not and now they're gone.
Coincidentally, Jean-Gilles was in Cincinnati and had Mathis' old locker and Mathis and his here at the NovaCare Complex. Jean-Gilles was cut last week, but McGlynn is now with the Bengals after the Eagles released him.
The absurdity of life is not lost on Mathis, who brings a sharp sense of humor to Twitter. For example, on Tuesday he asked Eagles defensive end and avid hunter Trent Cole if hunting was "allowed in downtown Philly?"
"I'm very sarcastic, lot of dry humor," Mathis said. "I don't take anything seriously except football. I put my whole life into football. I won't slack off here. But when it comes to anything else I'm going to have fun with it."
Extra points. The Eagles signed Akeem Jordan to a two-year contract on Tuesday. The linebacker signed a one-year deal when the team brought the free agent back early in training camp. . . . The depth chart on the Eagles website had receiver DeSean Jackson listed as the team's punt returner and receiver Jeremy Maclin as his backup. The team has yet to officially name a punt returner after they released candidates Chad Hall and Sinorice Moss. . . . On Monday, receiver Steve Smith said he would play this Sunday. Smith is less than nine months removed from arthroscopic knee surgery. . . . TE Anthony Hill and WR Ronald Johnson were signed to the practice squad on Monday. . . . The following players switched jerseys: safety Jarrad Page went from No. 25 to 41; RB Dion Lewis (27 to 28), running back Ronnie Brown (36 to 21), Smith (19 to 11) and newly signed OL Kyle DeVan will wear No. 68.
Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, email@example.com or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.