Friday, December 27, 2013
Pro Bowl selections: Denver Broncos
By Jeff Legwold
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Touchdowns have their privileges.
In a historical season that has seen Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning build on records here and set new records there, another Pro Bowl selection was added to the list Friday with several of his offensive teammates in tow.
Manning was named to his 13th Pro Bowl team, increasing the record for quarterbacks he already held as of last season, when he was named to his 12th. The 37-year-old was joined by wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, tight end Julius Thomas and guard Louis Vasquez, teammates from the league’s highest-scoring offense, as well as kicker Matt Prater, who booted an NFL record 64-yard field goal this season. The Broncos offense needs just 18 points Sunday in the regular-season finale to set the NFL single-season scoring record.
Hall of Fame guard Bruce Matthews holds the record with 14 career Pro Bowl selections
Manning leads the NFL with 51 touchdowns and 5,211 passing yards after 15 games. Manning has had at least 300 yards passing in 12 games this season and at least 400 yards passing in four. Manning has also had at least four touchdown passes in eight games.
Head coach John Fox, who said following Denver practice Friday he looked forward to seeing which Broncos made the Pro Bowl cut, was then asked if Manning had a chance.
With tongue firmly in cheek, Fox said, “I’d say he’s a strong candidate.’’
Demaryius Thomas was named to last year’s Pro Bowl as an injury replacement. It was Julius Thomas’ first Pro Bowl selection, as it was for Vasquez.
Vasquez's selection was a testament to the Broncos’ personnel department, which made him one of the team’s first targets in free agency this past offseason. Indeed, Denver thought so highly of Vasquez it signed him for four years, the longest deal offered to this year’s crop of free agents.
The Broncos made Julius Thomas a fourth-round draft pick in 2011 despite the fact he had played just one season of football at Portland State after concluding his basketball career. Thomas’ first two NFL seasons were largely derailed by an ankle injury he suffered on his first career catch in 2011 and the surgery he had following his rookie season.
Friday's announcement is a bit of a snub for wide receiver Eric Decker, who has 83 catches to Demaryius Thomas’ 86 and 1,261 yards to Thomas’ 1,317. But receiver is routinely one of the most competitive positions in the voting -- and some 19 currently have at least 1,000 yards receiving, with seven more players with at least 900 heading into the regular season’s final week.
Decker, guard Zane Beadles, running back Knowshon Moreno, wide receiver Wes Welker, center Manny Ramirez, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, linebacker Von Miller and special-teams captain David Bruton are all alternates at varying levels.
Welker would have likely earned more consideration had he not been held out of the past two games. Teams conducted their Pro Bowl voting among the players and coaches this past week, Broncos included.
Of course, the Broncos would rather have to beg off the Jan. 26 all-star game, given that players headed to the Super Bowl the following weekend will not be in Hawaii.
No players from the Broncos defense got the Pro Bowl nod, which means cornerback Champ Bailey, who has been named 12 times previously in his career, didn’t make the cut for the first time since 2008, when he missed seven games because of a groin injury.
Bailey has played in just four games this season -- Sunday in Oakland will be his fifth -- because of a left-foot injury he suffered in the preseason.
Miller, who suffered a season-ending right knee injury this past Sunday in Houston, had been selected to the past two Pro Bowls. But after starting the season with a six-game suspension, Miller had five sacks in his nine games.
Click here for the complete Pro Bowl roster.