Carson Wentz, Adam Thielen named NFL Pro Bowlers
Carson Wentz and Adam Thielen, who played football for two area high schools, have been selected to play in the National Football League’s Pro Bowl.
Wentz, a second-year quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, and Thielen, a fourth-year wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings, were among those named to the NFC team’s starting roster. Wentz played high school football at Bismarck (N.D.) Century and college football at North Dakota State. Thielen played high school football at Detroit Lakes (Minn.) and college football at Minnesota State-Mankato.
Wentz, of course, won’t be able to play in the Jan. 28 game in Orlando, Fla., because of his torn ACL.
In 13 games, Wentz completed 265 of 440 passes for 3,296 yards, a franchise-record and a NFL-leading 33 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. Prior to his season-ending injury, Wentz was being touted for most valuable player consideration in the NFL.
In 14 games, Thielen has caught 83 passes for 1,191 yards and four touchdowns. He ranks fifth in the NFL in receiving yards.
“It’s obviously a tremendous accomplishment,’’ Thielen told NFL Network. “I’m very excited, very proud, but we have a lot of work to do. We have two games left in the regular season and hopefully a big run in the playoffs.’’
Thielen, of Detroit Lakes, Minn., was undrafted out of Division II Minnesota State Mankato before making the Vikings’ practice squad in 2013. In 2014 and 2015, he primarily was a special-teams player, catching just 20 passes those two seasons.
Thielen broke loose last year with 69 catches for 967 yards and this season has been even better. Thielen is the first Minnesota receiver since Sidney Rice in 2009 to have a 1,000-yard campaign. Excluding kick returners, he is the first Vikings receiver chosen to the Pro Bowl since Rice that season.
“I tried not to think about it too much, but what a great honor to be selected,’’ Thielen told NFL Network.
Thielen’s teammates, defensive end Everson Griffen and linebacker Anthony Barr were named to the game for the third consecutive season and cornerback Xavier Rhodes for the second straight year. Thielen is making is first appearance.
The Vikings (11-3) have the second-best record in the NFC, and many believed they would have more than four selections.
The biggest surprise was the omission of safety Harrison Smith, who has played in the past two Pro Bowls and is ranked as the top player at his position by Pro Football Focus. Also not selected was nose tackle Linval Joseph, a notable run-stopper who played in last season’s Pro Bowl.
Pro Bowlers were selected by a one-third vote each from fans, players and coaches. It was announced Saturday that Griffen and Rhodes had won the fan vote at their positions.
Griffen has 13 sacks, fourth in the NFL and a career best. He is the first Minnesota defensive end chosen for three straight Pro Bowls since Chris Doleman went to four straight from 1987-90.
Rhodes has shut down top receivers all season, including Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown and Atlanta’s Julio Jones. He is the first Vikings cornerback selected to two straight Pro Bowls since Antoine Winfield made it three straight from 2008-10.
Barr made the Pro Bowl as an alternate last season even though he admitted he played below expectations. He bounced back this season and had been hopeful of earning another trip to Orlando.
In addition to the four players chosen and Smith and Joseph, the Vikings also had touted quarterback Case Keenum, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, tight end Kyle Rudolph, tackle Riley Reiff and linebacker Eric Kendricks as Pro Bowl candidates.
Other Minnesota players still have a chance to make the Pro Bowl. Some players will be replaced because of injury, and all Pro Bowl selections who make the Super Bowl will be replaced.
“I’m hoping that none of our Pro Bowlers are playing in the Pro Bowl,’’ Vikings defensive end Brian Robison said Monday. “We’ve got bigger things at stake.’’NFC Pro Bowl RosterOffenseWide receiver: Julio Jones*, Atlanta; Adam Thielen*, Minnesota; Michael Thomas, New Orleans; Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona.Tackle: Tyron Smith*, Dallas; Trent Williams*, Washington; Lane Johnson, Philadelphia.Guard: Zack Martin*, Dallas; Brandon Brooks*, Philadelphia; Brandon Scherff, Washington.Center: Alex Mack*, Atlanta; Travis Frederick, Dallas.Tight end: Zach Ertz*, Philadelphia; Jimmy Graham, Seattle.Quarterback: Carson Wentz*, Philadelphia; Russell Wilson, Seattle; Drew Brees, New Orleans.Running back: Todd Gurley*, Los Angelse Rams; Alvin Kamara, New Orleands; Mark Ingram, New Orleands.Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk*, San Francisco.DefenseDefensive end: Everson Griffen*, Minnesota; Demarcus Lawrence*, Dallas; Cameron Jordan, New Orleans.Interior linemen: Fletcher Cox*, Philadelphia; Aaron Donald*, Los Angeles Rams; Gerlad McCoy, Tampa Bay.Outside linebacker: Chandler Jones*, Arizona; Ryan Kerrigan*, Washington; Anthony Barr, Minnesota.Inside/middle linebacker: Luke Kuechly*, Carolina; Bobby Wagner, Seattle.Cornerback: Xavier Rhodes*, Minnesota; Patrick Peterson*, Arizona; Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans; Darius Shay, Detroit.Free safety: Earl Thomas*, Seattle.Strong safety: Landon Collins*, New York Giants; Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia.Special teamsPunter: Johnny Hekker*, Los Angeles Rams.Kicker: Greg Zuerlein*, Los Angeles Rams.Return specialist: Pharoh Cooper*, Los Angeles Rams.Special teamer: Budda Baker*, Arizona.* Indicates starterAFC Pro Bowl RosterOffenseWide receiver: Antonio Brown*, Pittsburgh; DeAndre Hopkins*, Houston; A.J. Green, Cincinnati; Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers.Tackle: Alejandro Villanueva*, Pittsburgh; Taylor Lewan*, Tennessee; Donald Penn, Oakland.Guard: Kelechi Osemele*, Oakland; David DeCastro*, Pittsburgh; Richie Incognito, Buffalo.Center: Maurkice Pouncey*, Pittsburgh; Rodney Hudson, Oakland.Tight end: Travis Kelce*, Kansas City; Rob Gronkowski, New England.Running back: Le'Veon Bell*, Pittsburgh; Kareem Hunt, Kansas City; LeSean McCoy, Buffalo.Quarterback: Tom Brady*, New England; Philip River, Los Angeles Chargers; Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh.Fullback: James Develin*, New England.DefenseDefense end: Joey Bosa*, Los Angeles Chargers; Calais Campbell*, Jacksonville; Khalil Mack, Oakland.Interior linemen: Geno Atkins*, Cincinnati; Jurrell Casey*, Tennessee; Malik Jackson, Jacksonville.Outside linebacker: Von Miller*, Denver; Jadeveon Clowney*, Houston; Terrell Suggs, Baltimore.Inside/middle linebacker: C.J. Mosley*, Baltimore; Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh.Cornerback: A.J. Bouye*, Jacksonville; Jalen Ramsey*, Jacksonville; Aqib Talib, Denver; Casey Hayward, Los Angeles Chargers.Free safety: Eric Weddle*, Baltimore.Strong safety: Reshad Jones*, Miami; Michah Hyde, Buffalo.Special TeamsPunter: Brett Kern*, Tennessee.Kicker: Chris Boswell*, Pittsburgh.Return specialist: Tyreek Hill*, Kansas City.Special teamer: Matthew Slater*, New England.* Indicates starter