Bengals rookie WR A.J. Green has been voted to the AFC team for this season’s Pro Bowl game, the NFL announced today. The game will be played on Sunday, January 29, televised nationally on NBC beginning at 7 p.m. EST.
Green, from the University of Georgia, was the Bengals’ first-round selection (fourth overall) in the 2011 draft. He is the first rookie WR voted to the Pro Bowl since the 2003 season, when Anquan Boldin of the Arizona Cardinals made the list, and he is the first Bengals rookie at any position voted to the Pro Bowl since WR Cris Collinsworth in the 1981 season.
The Bengals also had seven players voted as Pro Bowl alternates. DT Geno Atkins, QB Andy Dalton and K Mike Nugent were voted first alternates, OT Andrew Whitworth is a second alternate, TE Jermaine Gresham is a third alternate, and HB Cedric Benson and NT Domata Peko are fifth alternates.
The alternates are selected for the Pro Bowl when roster replacements are needed due to injuries or other reasons. This year’s Pro Bowl will be played a week in advance of Super Bowl XLVI, so Pro Bowl selections on the two Super Bowl teams will be replaced from the alternates’ ranks.
Green has played in 14 of the Bengals 15 games, missing one due to injury, and he leads the team in receptions (63), receiving yards (1031) and touchdowns (seven). He ranks tied for 12th in the AFC in receptions, and he ranks seventh in receiving yards, but his performance has transcended those numbers. As he did in college, he has made spectacular plays on a regular basis, using his size (6-4, 207), speed and superior hands to frequently beat double coverage for contested catches. He leads the NFL this season in catches of 35 or more yards (11).
“As I’ve said before, A.J. is the best first-round draft pick that I’ve ever been around,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “He has shown the other players in this league, and the fans, that he deserved this honor. I have not seen a receiver better than he is at getting to the ball.”
Pro Bowl spots are determined based on voting by players, coaches and fans, with each group’s vote having equal weight.
Besides Cris Collinsworth in 1981, other Bengals rookies in the Pro Bowl have been WR Isaac Curtis (1973) and CB Lemar Parrish (1970). Additionally, four Bengals rookies were in the American Football League All-Star Game — LB Bill Bergey (1969) and C Bob Johnson, RB Paul Robinson and TE Bob Trumpy in 1968.