Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins has been named to the 2015 Pro Bowl, the team announced on Friday. Atkins is replacing Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who is deciding to forego the event with an injury. The addition of Atkins gives the Bengals three players in the Pro Bowl, as wide receiver A.J. Green and punter Kevin Huber were voted in directly.
It's a bit of a surprise. This past season, Atkins started every game and totaled 34 tackles, 3.0 sacks (second on team), eight tackles-for-loss (ranked second) and seven QB hits (third). He had an additional shared sack in Cincinnati’s Wild Card playoff game at Indianapolis.
Atkins was a fifth-year NFL player in 2014, all with the Bengals, and this is his third selection to the Pro Bowl. He was voted in for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. In 2014, he came back from a major knee injury (ACL tear) that had cut short his 2013 season. For both the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Atkins earned first-team berths on major NFL All-Pro teams. His 12.5 sacks in 2012 led all NFL interior linemen by a wide margin.
The game will be played Sun., Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., and will be televised nationally by ESPN. For the second consecutive year, the Pro Bowl will be "unconferenced." Instead of the AFC vs. NFC matchup that was previously the format, players were selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players. Players will be assigned to opposing teams during the 2015 Pro Bowl Draft on NFL Network on Wed., Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. The teams will be known as Team Carter and Team Irvin, after Hall of Fame wide receivers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin, who will serve as alumni team captains and head the draft selection process for each of their squads.