The New England Patriots had four players named to the Pro Bowl. Here’s a look at who was selected:
Tom Brady, QB, 13th Pro Bowl selection: The 13 Pro Bowl berths are a franchise record, passing Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah, and this is his ninth straight. Entering Week 16, Brady leads the NFL in completions (346) and passing yards (4,163) and is third in touchdown passes (28). Brady joins Tony Gonzalez (14), Peyton Manning (14), Bruce Matthews (14), Merlin Olsen (14), Ray Lewis (13), Jerry Rice (13) and Reggie White (13) as the only NFL players with at least 13 berths.
James Develin, FB, first Pro Bowl selection: Who would have thought the Patriots, who like to air it out with Brady, would have a bulldozing fullback playing 29.9 percent of the offensive snaps? The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Develin attended Brown University, began his professional career with the Florida Tuskers of the UFL and spent three seasons on practice squads (2010-2012) before breaking through. A great story, as Develin is the Patriots’ first fullback to be selected since Sam Cunningham in 1978.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, fifth Pro Bowl selection: He leads all tight ends in receiving yards (1,017) and yards per reception (15.9), and is coming off a career-high 168-yard performance during a thrilling win over the Steelers. This season, Gronkowski joined Gonzalez and Jason Witten as the only tight ends in NFL history with four 1,000-yard seasons.
Matthew Slater, ST, seventh Pro Bowl selection: It has been a challenging year for one of the Patriots’ emotional leaders, as he has battled a nagging hamstring injury, but he still earned a berth as a result of his league-wide reputation as an elite special teams player. Slater is this generation’s Larry Izzo, a top-notch special teamer who even when not making the same level of impact as earlier in his career is still a top vote-getter because of the respect he has garnered around the NFL. In fairness to others around the league, this is a generous pick for Slater, who has only played in seven games. His seven Pro Bowl berths ties Steve Tasker (1987, 1990-95) for the most special teams Pro Bowl honors in NFL history.