Chargers lead Pro Bowl selections with 7 players
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 played Jan. 27 in Orlando. 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, Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Seahawks punter Michael Dickson, Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay, Indianapolis guard Quenton Nelson and Cleveland cornerback Denzel Wads. Lindsay is an undrafted player.
Buffalo, Oakland and Tampa Bay had no Pro Bowl selections.
“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, Pittsburgh 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 Pittsburgh is the starter ahead of Mike Pouncey.
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.