The season may have ended far too soon for the Cincinnati Bengals, but several players will get to play in another football game before heading into the offseason.
Among those will be defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who was just selected to his first Pro Bowl as an alternate. He will be replacing New York Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, who is expected to be recovering for the next 6 months due to a broken leg he suffered in Week 17.
Dunlap, who just completed his sixth NFL season, has slowly emerged to become one of the league's best defensive ends. He finished 2015 with a career-high 13.5 sacks to go with 55 total tackles and two forced fumbles. Those 13.5 QB sacks were also a team-high and the fourth most of any NFL player this season.
2015 was a record-breaking year for Dunlap, who officially passed Eddie Edwards as the team's single-season sack leader. Edwards set the franchise mark back in 1983 with 13. Dunlap also passed Edwards as the franchise's all-time leader in sacks at 49. As Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com noted, Coy Bacon's single-season mark of 22 sacks is actually the record, but came before sacks were an officially tracked NFL stat.
The good times hopefully won't be ending soon for Dunlap, who turns 27 in February and is still under contract with the Bengals through the 2018 season, meaning there should be plenty of more sacks to come during his career in Cincinnati.
As of now, Dunlap will join five other Bengals who were voted into the Pro Bowl, including defensive tackle Geno Atkins, tight end Tyler Eifert, wide receiver A.J. Green, safety Reggie Nelson and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. Dunlap was initially a first alternate along with quarterback Andy Dalton and special teamer Cedric Peerman.
It's currently not certain whether Nelson will play in the game after injuring his ankle in the Bengals' playoff loss to the Steelers, though Marvin Lewis says he expects Nelson will still play.
Congratulations to Dunlap on making his first Pro Bowl.