Each Wednesday, Weston Hodkiewicz provides an inside look at the Green Bay Packers in his Walkthrough blog.
Only 5 percent of active NFL players are voted into the Pro Bowl on original selection.
With only 86 coveted spots, there’s bound to be a handful of skilled players who don’t make the final cut. In fact, six NFL teams were shut out of this season’s Pro Bowl in the initial balloting.
The Green Bay Packers had three players – quarterback Aaron Rodgers, guard Josh Sitton and linebacker Clay Matthews – selected to this season’s event with eight others chosen as alternates.
The relevance of the Pro Bowl game itself has been debated in recent years, but there’s still a lot of prestige involved with getting selected. There's also the financial ramifications. In addition to the actual game checks – players on the winning team receive $58,000 compared to $29,000 for the losers – many veterans have Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators worked into their contracts.
With that in mind, here’s a quick look at a few Packers who got snubbed…
Mike Daniels, DT
It’s not easy to make the Pro Bowl as a defensive lineman in Dom Capers’ scheme. Only B.J. Raji (2011) has managed to accomplish the feat since 2009 and his selection probably was based more on the name recognition he gained in 2010 when he was snubbed despite having 39 tackles and 6½ sacks. Daniels is starting to gain more attention for his relentless motor. The Packers certainly took notice in giving the 6-foot, 312-pound lineman a four-year, $41 million extension with a $12 million signing bonus last week. He already has set a career high in tackles (41) to go along with his four sacks. His 49 pressures are fifth among 3-4 defensive ends, according to Pro Football Focus. Three of the four players ahead of him – Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets), J.J. Watt (Texans) and Fletcher Cox (Eagles) – were selected Tuesday. The other, Cameron Heyward (Steelers), was named an alternate like Daniels.
T.J. Lang, G
Lang has been an unsung leader of the offense for the past four years. He doesn’t get as much recognition as fellow guard Josh Sitton, but his play has been on the same level as the three-time Pro Bowler this season. He has missed only two starts since stepping into the starting lineup in 2011, while playing through shoulder and ankle injuries over the past two seasons. His one sack allowed is the only hit he has permitted on the quarterback this season, according to Pro Football Focus. An emotional leader on the offense, Lang also is the first one to step up for a teammate. It’s the second consecutive year Lang has been named an alternate.
Julius Peppers, OLB
Peppers, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection, probably isn’t losing any sleep over not being picked. However, he actually has been better in his second season with the Packers than his first. The coaching staff has done a better job of monitoring Peppers’ snaps this season and it has paid off with 34 tackles and a team-high 9½ sacks. He and Cincinnati’s Carlos Dunlap (10½ sacks) are the only two players in the top 10 in NFL sacks who weren’t selected to the Pro Bowl. He also fits Ted Thompson’s prototype for players in his durability. Peppers, who turns 36 next month, started all 32 games for the Packers the past two seasons, including playoffs. It’s looking more and more like the 13-year veteran will wind up playing out the entire three-year contract he signed with the Packers in March 2014.
One more thing…
Packers receiver Ty Montgomery told WOZN radio in Madison on Tuesday that he’ll undergo surgery next week to help repair the high-ankle sprain that derailed his rookie season.
Montgomery’s agent, Damarius Bilbo, didn’t return phone and e-mail messages left by Press-Gazette Media on Tuesday, but told ESPN.com that his client made the decision after consulting Charlotte-based foot specialist Robert Anderson. The procedure will clean up cartilage damage in the ankle.
Montgomery was placed on season-ending injured reserve Monday after missing his eighth consecutive game Sunday. His spot on the 53-man roster was used to activate tight end Andrew Quarless from temporary injured reserve.
Montgomery sustained two setbacks in his return from the high-ankle sprain he sustained against San Diego on Oct. 18. His most recent flare-up last Wednesday forced him back to the sidelines and onto injured reserve. Montgomery admitted Friday that he was “kind of fed up with the process.”
It ends a once-promising season for the rookie third-round pick, who caught 15 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in six games before sustaining a high-ankle sprain against San Diego. His contributions on special teams helped spark an otherwise dormant kickoff return unit.