Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green tied a franchise record Tuesday with his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl selection, and veteran safety Reggie Nelson became a first-time Pro Bowler despite enjoying a productive NFL career almost twice as long as Green's.
Green's fifth trip to the annual NFL all-star game and Nelson's maiden voyage in his ninth season highlighted Cincinnati's five selections to the post-season contest for the NFL's elite.
Green, a first-round draft pick amid his fifth straight 1,000-yard receiving season, is the first-ever Bengal to be named each of his first five years in the league. Nelson, the league's interceptions leader with eight, has paid maximum dividends since being acquired in 2010 from Jacksonville in a cutdown-day trade.
Also heading to Honolulu are Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, tight end Tyler Eifert and left tackle Andrew Whitworth.
Atkins, second among NFL interior linemen with 10 sacks, is a four-time pick. He's just the second Bengals defensive player named to at least four Pro Bowls, joining cornerback Lemar Parrish, who went to six.
“I’m excited for our players who have been voted in. They are both thrilled and honored to be recognized," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said of his all-stars. "It’s a tribute to their teammates and the organization to have the number selected today, and the high alternates. As the coach, I’m excited for the players making a return trip, as well as our two first-time honorees.”
Eifert, like Nelson, is a first-time pick. The third-year tight end leads the Bengals with 12 touchdowns, the most for a tight end in club history. He led the league before a pinched nerve and then a concussion knocked him out of the majority of three games.
This is the first time Whitworth has been voted to the Pro Bowl. His previous selection came as an alternate in 2012. He and Atkins led their respective positions in fan balloting.
It's the first time in 10 years that the Bengals have been honored with five Pro Bowl picks. There could be more on the way, as quarterback Andy Dalton, left end Carlos Dunlap, and special teams ace Cedric Peerman were voted first alternates.
Dalton, who was leading the NFL in passing before breaking his right thumb, finished third in QB balloting. Dunlap leads the team with a career-high 10.5 sacks and has a pair of blocked field goals. Peerman, among the league leaders with a Bengals-high 10 special team tackles plus two assists, is looking to become Cincinnati's first special teams cover player to earn a Pro Bowl berth.
The Pro Bowl is 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, and will be televised on ESPN from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. Players will be assigned to one of two teams, one captained by former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin, the other captained by one-time San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice, a pair of pro football hall of famers.
All-stars will be disbursed during the 2016 Pro Bowl Draft, held at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, and televised on ESPN2. Players will suit up either for Team Irvin or Team Rice.