Chargers lead Pro Bowl selections with 7 players
NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Chargers placed seven players in the Pro Bowl, including safety Derwin James, one of six rookies across the league to make the game.
James, a first-round draft choice, will be joined on the AFC squad by veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, wide receiver Keenan Allen, running back Melvin Gordon, defensive end Melvin Ingram, center Mike Pouncey and special-teamer Adrian Phillips for the game, which will be Jan. 27 in Orlando, Fla. James and Phillips are the only starters, though.
Rivers is a backup to Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, one of 29 first-time Pro Bowlers. That, of course, includes all the rookies: James, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson, Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay, Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson and Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward. Lindsay is an undrafted player.
New England’s Tom Brady is the other AFC quarterback, making it for the 14th time. Noticeably missing are the Colts’ Andrew Luck and the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger.
New Orleans, led by quarterback Drew Brees, Dallas and Chicago paced the NFC with five players each. Brees is the starter, backed up by Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and the Rams’ Jared Goff.
Buffalo, Oakland and Tampa Bay had no Pro Bowl selections.
The Steelers and Kansas City each had six players chosen.
Cleveland has a first overall draft choice in the game — not Baker Mayfield, but 2017 top pick Myles Garrett at defensive end.
“Football is a team game, and you can’t do it on your own,” said Garrett, who leads the Browns with 12½ sacks. “I’m happy to be able to share this experience with Denzel because this honor is really a testament to our entire defense.”
Among the perennial AFC choices returning to the game are Houston DE J.J. Watt, Steelers WR Antonio Brown, Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda and safety Eric Weddle, Cincinnati DT Geno Atkins and Denver LB Von Miller.
“To get recognized by your peers, the coaches and the fans, it means a lot,” Weddle said. “It’s always special to put in the hard work and to try your best and then get recognized. The Pro Bowl is something I never take for granted, and I’m pretty stoked about it. Each year you just work hard and try to play your very best. To receive recognition for what you do on the field, even if it may not show up in other areas, is awesome.”
For the NFC, frequent repeaters include Atlanta WR Julio Jones and C Alex Mack, Dallas tackle Tyron Smith, inside LBs Luke Kuechly of Carolina and Bobby Wagner of Seattle, Arizona CB Patrick Peterson, Rams DT Aaron Donald and Bears LB Khalil Mack.
One of the newcomers, Chicago DT Akiem Hicks, sounded overwhelmed by the honor.
“I have played the game of football my entire life and this is the greatest accolade I’ve ever achieved,” he said.
There will be a brother combination at center for the AFC as Maurkice Pouncey of the Steelers is the starter ahead of Mike Pouncey.
The Jets, despite a 4-10 record, have three Pro Bowlers in safety Jamal Adams, kicker Jason Myers and return specialist Andre Roberts — all first-timers.
Pro Bowl coaching staffs will be from the losing teams in the AFC and NFC divisional playoffs with the best regular-season records. Each player on the winning Pro Bowl team receives $67,000, while each player on the losing squad earns $34,000.
Pro Bowl rosters
Quarterbacks: Tom Brady, New England; x-Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City; Philip Rivers, L.A. Chargers
Tight ends: Eric Ebron, Indianapolis; x-Travis Kelce, Kansas City
Wide Receivers: Keenan Allen, L.A. Chargers ; Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh; x-Tyreek Hill, Kansas City: x-DeAndre Hopkins, Houston.
Tackles: Eric Fisher, Kansas City; x-Taylor Lewan, Tennessee; x-Alejandro Villanueva, Pittsburgh
Guards: x-David DeCastro, Pittsburgh; Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis; x-Marshal Yanda, Baltimore
Running Backs: x-James Conner, Pittsburgh, Melvin Gordon, L.A. Chargers; Phillip Lindsay, Denver.
Centers: x-Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh; Mike Pouncey, L.A. Chargers
Defensive Ends: x-Myles Garrett, Cleveland; Melvin Ingram, L.A. Chargers; x-J.J. Watt, Houston
Inside/Middle Linebackers: Benardrick McKinney, Houston; x-C.J. Mosley, Baltimore
Interior Lineman: x-Geno Atkins, Cincinnati; x-Jurrell Casey; Tennessee; Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh
Cornerbacks: Stephon Gilmore, New England; x-Xavien Howard, Miami; x-Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville; Denzel Ward, Cleveland
Outside Linebackers: x-Jadeveon Clowney, Houston; Dee Ford, Kansas City; x-Von Miller, Denver
Free Safeties: X-Derwin James, L.A. Chargers; Eric Weddle, Baltimore
Strong Safety: x-Jamal Adams, N.Y. Jets
Punter: x-Brett Kern, Tennessee
Kicker: x-Jason Myers, N.Y. Jets
Return Specialist: x-Andre Roberts, N.Y. Jets
Special Teamer: x-Adrian Phillips, L.A. Chargers
Quarterbacks: x-Drew Brees, New Orleans; Jared Goff, L.A. Rams; Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Tight Ends: x-Zach Ertz, Philadelphia; George Kittle, San Francisco
Wide Receivers: Davante Adams, Green Bay; x-Julio Jones, Atlanta; Adam Thielen, Minnesota; x-Michael Thomas, New Orleans
Tackles: x-Terron Armstead, New Orleans; x-Tyron Smith, Dallas; Trent Williams, Washington
Guards: x-Brandon Brooks, Philadelphia; x-Zack Martin, Dallas; Trai Turner, Carolina
Running Backs: Saquon Barkley, N.Y. Giants; Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas; x-Todd Gurley, L.A. Rams
Centers: x-Alex Mack, Atlanta; Max Under; New Orleans
Fullback: x-Kyle Juszczyk, San Francisco
Defensive Ends: Danielle Hunter, Minnesota; x-Cameron Jordan, New Orleans; x-Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas
Inside/Middle Linebackers: x-Luke Kuechly, Carolina; Bobby Wagner, Seattle
Interior Lineman: x-Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia; x-Aaron Donald, L.A. Rams; Akiem Hicks, Chicago
Cornerbacks: x-Kyle Fuller, Chicago; Byron Jones, Dallas; x-Patrick Peterson, Arizona; Darius Slay, Detroit
Outside Linebackers: Anthony Barr, Minnesota; x-Ryan Kerrigan, Washington; x-Khalil Mack, Chicago
Free Safeties: x-Eddie Jackson, Chicago; Harrison Smith, Minnesota
Strong Safety: Landon Collins, N.Y. Giants
Punter: x-Michael Dickson, Seattle
Kicker: x-Aldrick Rosas, N.Y. Giants
Return Specialist: x-Tarik Cohen, Chicago
Special Teamer: x-Cory Littleton, L.A. Rams