Now Carlos Dunlap believes it's his turn.
The Cincinnati Bengals' fifth-year defensive end said before training camp practice Monday that he would like to join Atkins and Burfict as the next Cincinnati defender to reach the Pro Bowl.
"Most definitely, that's been one of my personal goals: to get out there with those guys," Dunlap said, responding to a question about the Pro Bowl.
Dunlap's motivations for making it to the game were inflamed further in January by defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who sent him a text message from Hawaii. Guenther was there as one of Burfict's guests. His message to Dunlap? It's time you get out here, too.
"He saw the guys that were out there, so for him to feel like I should have been out there, it just tells me that I need to put the work in and everything else will fall into place," Dunlap said.
Since 2006, Burfict and Atkins have been the only Bengals defenders selected to the Pro Bowl. Atkins played in the game in 2011 and 2012, and the former undrafted free-agent Burfict capped off his second season by reaching it for the first time last year. Before Atkins, the last Bengals defender to be selected to the Pro Bowl was cornerback Deltha O'Neal, who participated in the 2005 season's game.
"The Pro Bowl is based off numbers and fan support," Dunlap said. "We've got a good, strong fan base in Cincinnati here, so now I just have to go out and produce and put up the numbers."
Last season, Dunlap had career highs in tackles (58) and sacks (7.5). He tied for the team sack lead with Wallace Gilberry. Dunlap also forced four fumbles, matching a career high set in 2012.