A handful of the Baltimore Ravens’ best players from this season have been dubbed worthy to play in the NFL’s all-star game in Orlando in late January.
The NFL announced its Pro Bowl rosters last night. Kicker Justin Tucker, coming off an explosive season, headlines the quartet. Fullback Kyle Juszcyzyk and guard Marshal Yanda are joining him as starters, while inside/middle linebacker C.J. Mosley was selected to play behind the New England Patriots’ Dont’a Hightower.
All four players expressed gratitude in statements shared by the franchise. “Thank you to the players and coaches across the league for their votes, and an especially big ‘thank you’ goes out to the fans for making this all possible,” Tucker said in part in his statement.
Tucker, who has proven to be nearly perfectly this season by missing only one kick (which was blocked), joins Mosley in being picked for his second Pro Bowl. Yanda has now been picked six times in his 10 seasons playing with the Ravens.
Juszcyzyk, meanwhile, is playing in his first. It’s a fitting honor, given that he’s leading the NFL in receptions (33) and receiving yards (255) among fullbacks. “So much credit goes to the talented backs running behind me, the dominant offensive line in front of me and a skillful quarterback throwing me the ball,” he said in a statement.
The Ravens also had four other players picked as second alternates, in case other selections and first alternates decline their offers to play in the all-star game on Jan. 29 at Camping World Stadium: Strong safety Eric Weddle, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Brandon Williams and tight end Dennis Pitta.
Weddle’s alternate selection is something of a snub. He’s joined by only one defensive player in the league who has recorded at least four interceptions and one sack this season and is tied for third for interceptions by safeties, according to the Ravens. The safety was cunningly optimistic in his response to the roster lists last night:
There's always next yr!!!!! All about pitt baby. https://t.co/VSZP98Din8
— Eric Weddle (@weddlesbeard) December 21, 2016
Of course, the ideal situation would be that all eight players can’t make it, as they would be prepping for Super Bowl LI on Sunday, Feb. 5. But to even make that a possibility, the Ravens still need to need one at least one of their next couple games against AFC North Rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals to make the playoffs, then pull out a resurgent postseason push akin to what happened in 2013. But anything is possible, and it’s far from impossible for this unpredictable Ravens squad.
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