A.J. Green’s streak of 1,000-yard seasons may be in jeopardy, but his run of Pro Bowl berths is still alive.
The wide receiver on Tuesday was named to his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl, where he will join defensive tackle Geno Atkins as the lone representatives of the Cincinnati Bengals.
That, of course, could change by the time the game is played Jan. 29 in Orlando, Fla., due to the unavailability of players competing in the Super Bowl, those who are injured and those who just don’t feel like risking injury for an exhibition game that doesn’t come with an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii, where 35 of the previous 37 Pro Bowls had been held.
Bengals players in line to fill vacancies are tackle Andrew Whitworth (first alternate), defensive end Carlos Dunlap (second alternate) and guard Kevin Zeitler (third alternate).
“A.J. and Geno have been two of our most honored players, and it’s great to see them both voted to the Pro Bowl again,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “They have both had fine seasons. A.J. has been hurt of late, but he earned it before his injury, and Geno has had another strong and productive year.”
Green has 66 catches for 964 yards but has not played in the last four games due to a hamstring injury, leaving him 36 yards shy of a sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season. Green also has been voted to the Pro Bowl in all six seasons and is the only player in franchise history to make it in the first six seasons of his career. Anthony Munoz holds the team record with 11 selections, which came in consecutive seasons from 1981-1991.
Lewis has said Green will play when healthy, possibly as early as Saturday in Houston, but it remains to be seen whether he would be willing to risk re-aggravating the injury in the Pro Bowl, especially in light of what happened last year to teammate Tyler Eifert, who suffered at first what was believed to be a minor ankle injury but ended up missing the first six games of 2016 after having surgery in May.
Eifert said in July he would never play in the Pro Bowl again.
“It’s just not worth it in my opinion,” he said. “It was a great week, but I don’t want to risk going through this again.”
Atkins’ selection is his third in a row and fifth in the last six seasons. His team-high 7.5 sacks lead the league among interior linemen. He also leads in the Bengals in quarterback hits (23) and tackles for loss (12).
His five selections are the most in franchise history for a defensive lineman and are one shy of the Bengals record for defensive players, which is held by cornerback Lemar Parrish.
It Whitworth ends up participating, it would be his third time, while it would be the second for Dunlap and first for Zeitler.
This season’s Pro Bowl will return to its original AFC vs. NFC format after three years of being “unconferenced.”