EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson’s spot in the Pro Bowl was never in doubt, just another footnote in his remarkable recovery from knee surgery. Wednesday, three of Peterson’s teammates discovered they would be joining him.
The NFL announced the initial rosters for the Pro Bowl to be played in Honolulu on Jan. 17, 2013 and the Minnesota Vikings had four players selected, with defensive end Jared Allen, fullback Jerome Felton and kicker Blair Walsh joining Peterson on the NFC squad.
Peterson’s fifth Pro Bowl nod comes with a starting assignment. Peterson finished fourth overall in the final fan vote last week, and his spot was secure as the final two-thirds votes with the players and coaches added in.
“I can definitely say it means a lot more, just coming off the ACL and MCL injury to be voted in the Pro Bowl,” Peterson told NFL Network later Wednesday evening. “It’s a blessing.”
Peterson leads the league with 1,898 rushing yards, leaving him 102 shy of being the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a single season and 208 yards away from breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 rushing yards, set in 1984.
“Oh yeah, it’s definitely realistic,” Peterson said on NFL Network. “I almost hit 300 one game. I’ve had a couple 200-plus games, so yeah, it’s definitely realistic.”
Allen, named to his fifth Pro Bowl, will be a backup at defensive end. Allen was the top vote-getter among fan voting. Allen, who has 10 sacks, finished behind the New York Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul and Chicago Bears’ Julius Peppers.
Minnesota’s push to get Peterson’s blocking back, Felton, into the Pro Bowl paid off with Felton getting the nod at fullback. Same goes for Walsh, the rookie kicker who has surprised many after being drafted in the sixth round.
Felton earned his first Pro Bowl after leading the way for Peterson on many of his big runs. Peterson has seven runs of 50-plus yards this season, which is tied for most in a single season in NFL history. Felton is the Vikings’ first Pro Bowl fullback since Tony Richardson in 2007.
“I’m so excited, thankful, humbled to be voted in the pro bowl by my peers and coaches!!,” Felton wrote on his Twitter page (@jfelton45) after the announcement. “This means more than I explain, and I want to thank All the fans for the support, my family, all my teammates and most of all god!! This season has been so special and we will try to continue it Sunday!!!”
The push for Walsh to be included gained more traction in the past few weeks as he set an NFL single-season record of nine field goals of 50 yards or more. Walsh is 9 of 9 this year from 50 yards and beyond and is 32 of 35 for the season on field goals. His 49 touchbacks also rank fourth in the league as he became the first rookie kicker selected to a Pro Bowl since Dallas’ Nick Folk in 2007. Walsh is the first Minnesota kicker elected to the Pro Bowl since Gary Anderson following the 1998 season.
Rookie left tackle Matt Kalil was the leading vote-getter from fans at tackle, but missed out on the final voting. Seattle’s Russell Okung and San Francisco’s Joe Staley were named as starters, with Washington’s Trent Williams as the backup.
“Just by winning the fan vote itself that was a pretty cool accomplishment,” Kalil said earlier Wednesday before the announcement. “I’d be fine with just that. That’s pretty cool to look at. Obviously it’s not my main focus if I don’t make the Pro Bowl. I’d rather win a Super Bowl than get in the Pro Bowl.”
Vikings center John Sullivan might have been the biggest snub for Minnesota, falling shy at center to Seattle’s Max Unger and Green Bay’s Jeff Saturday. Saturday was benched last week by the Packers in his first season in Green Bay.
“They’re all Pro Bowlers in my eyes,” Peterson said of his linemen on NFL Network.