Green Bay has seven selections on NFC team
Defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay (14-1), led by starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Baltimore (11-4), led by veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, have seven apiece for the Jan. 29 game in Honolulu, the NFL announced Tuesday.
Green Bay’s Rodgers is the starting NFC quarterback, backed by record-setting Drew Brees of New Orleans (12-3).
“It does have special significance, because when I was voted in in 2009, I was the third guy and I was very thankful to be voted in, and got the opportunity to start because of some injuries and guys not going,” Rodgers said. “It’s great to be voted in as a starter. That means a lot to me, and it’s a special honor.”
Three other Packers also were voted in as starters: fullback John Kuhn; outside linebacker Clay Matthews; and cornerback Charles Woodson.
Center Scott Wells, defensive lineman B.J. Raji, and receiver Greg Jennings also made the NFC team for Green Bay.
Brady is one of seven starters from New England (12-3). The others are receiver Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, defensive end Andre Carter, and guards Brian Waters and Logan Mankins all are starters for the AFC from the Patriots. Special teamer Matthew Slater is the other New England representative.
Linebacker Willis, defensivfe end Justin Smith, cornerback Carlos Rogers and tackle Joe Staley will start for the NFC from the 49ers (12-3), who had only Smith and Willis make the Pro Bowl last year.
Fifteen first-time Pro Bowlers made the NFC squad, including Rogers, Staley and safety Dashon Goldson of the 49ers. Thirteen AFC players were first-time selections, including Gronkowski, Carter and Slater of New England. Carter is on injured reserve (left quadriceps) and won’t play.
“If you look around the NFC, you see a ton of amazing and talented players at tight end,” said the Saints’ Jimmy Graham, the starter at the position and a first-time Pro Bowler.
Fourteen teams from each conference were represented, with St. Louis (2-13) and Washington (5-10) drawing blanks in the NFC, Buffalo
(6-9) and Tennessee (8-7) shut out in the AFC.
Pittsburgh (11-4), New Orleans and Chicago (7-8) each had five representatives.
Three rookies were chosen: Denver linebacker Von Miller, Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green, and Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, selected as a kick return specialist.
NFC special teamers included two 49ers: record-setting placekicker David Akers, and punter Andy Lee; Peterson; and Corey Graham of Chicago.
For the AFC, the Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski is the placekicker, Shane Lechler the punter. The kick return specialist is Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown, and the special-teams player is Slater.
Other NFC starters will be Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, Panthers center Ryan Kalil, Saints guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks, Eagles tackle Jason Peters, Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Lions receiver Calvin Johnson on offense.
On defense, the other NFC starters will be Vikings end Jared Allen and Eagles end Jason Babin, Cowboys tackle Jay Ratliff, Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson.
Other AFC offensive starters will be Ravens running back Ray Rice and fullback Vonta Leach, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, Browns tackles Joe Thomas of Wisconsin and Dolphins tackle Jake Long, and Steelers receiver Mike Wallace.
On defense, the other AFC starters will be Broncos end Elvis Dumervil replacing Carter, Colts end Dwight Freeney, Ravens tackle Haloti Ngata, Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Ravens safety Ed Reed.
Players who make the Super Bowl will be replaced on the Pro Bowl rosters.