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Texans have AFL best 8 all-star selections

This news story was published on December 27, 2012.
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The AFC South champion Houston Texans lead the American Football Conference All-Star squad with a conference-best eight All-Stars for the 2013 Pro Bowl, the NFL announced today. Right behind the Texans are the New England Patriots with seven All-Stars and the Baltimore Ravens with six.

The 2013 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii one week before Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Broadcast live on NBC at 7:00 PM ET, the Pro Bowl will be held prior to the Super Bowl for the fourth consecutive year and serve as the signature kickoff event of Super Bowl week.

The Texans’ eight All-Star selections – DUANE BROWN, ARIAN FOSTER, ANDRE JOHNSON, JOHNATHAN JOSEPH, CHRIS MYERS, MATT SCHAUB, WADE SMITH and J.J. WATT – are the most in team history and second most in the NFL this season, trailing only the San Francisco 49ers (nine). The AFC roster has seven first-time All-Stars, including Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who has an NFL-best 20.5 sacks this season.

Leading an elite trio of AFC passers is Denver quarterback PEYTON MANNING, who has been named the starter. Manning’s 12 All-Star selections are the most for a quarterback in AFC-NFC Pro Bowls. Manning, who has 4,355 passing yards this season, extended his NFL record by registering his 12th career 4,000-yard season. The four-time NFL MVP leads the AFC in touchdown passes (34) and passer rating (103.7) this season. New England quarterback TOM BRADY, who leads the AFC with 4,543 passing yards, was selected to his eighth Pro Bowl. With the Patriots clinching the AFC East, Brady is the first quarterback in NFL history to win 10 division titles. Houston quarterback Matt Schaub, who has guided the Texans to a franchise-best 12-3 record, earns his second Pro Bowl appearance. Schaub (3,733) needs 267 passing yards to reach 4,000 for the third time in his career.

The AFC running back starter is Arian Foster of the Texans. The three-time All-Star leads the NFL with 16 touchdowns (14 rushing, two receiving).

JAMAAL CHARLES of Kansas City and RAY RICE of Baltimore round out the running back position. Charles leads the AFC with 1,456 rushing yards and was named an All-Star for the second time. Rice, who has played a pivotal role in the Ravens clinching the AFC North title for the second consecutive season, earns a trip to the Pro Bowl for the third time. VONTA LEACH will be the AFC fullback for the third consecutive season and second as a Raven.

Cincinnati’s A.J. GREEN has been chosen as one of four receivers on the AFC team for the second consecutive season. Green is the first wide receiver to be selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons in the league since RANDY MOSS (1998-99). Lined up opposite of Green and also named a starter will be six-time All-Star Andre Johnson of Houston. Johnson leads the AFC with 1,457 receiving yards. Two veteran wideouts complete the position – New England’s WES WELKER (110) and Indianapolis’ REGGIE WAYNE (102) – who rank No. 1 and 2, respectively, in receptions in the AFC this season. Wayne earns his sixth Pro Bowl berth, while Welker has been selected to his fifth All- Star team.

Representing the AFC as the starter at tight end will be second-time All-Star ROB GRONKOWSKI of the Patriots. In his third NFL season, Gronkowski became the first tight end in NFL history with three straight seasons with 10+ touchdown receptions. Pittsburgh’s HEATH MILLER has been selected to his second Pro Bowl. Miller leads AFC tight ends with 816 receiving yards.New England’s LOGAN MANKINS and Baltimore’s MARSHAL YANDA will help pave the way up front as the starters at guard for the AFC. Mankins will make his fifth All-Star appearance and Yanda his second. In his 10th NFL season, Houston’s Wade Smith was selected to his first Pro Bowl.

MAURKICE POUNCEY of the Steelers is the starting center and has been selected to the All-Star squad for a third straight season. Pouncey, the Steelers’ first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, is the first center ever to be selected to a Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons. Chris Myers, a mainstay on the Texans’ offensive line, earns his second trip to the Pro Bowl.

Assigned to keep the pocket clean against the talented NFC edge rushers is a trio of standout tackles. Houston’s fifth-year tackle Duane Brown has been selected to his first Pro Bowl. Cleveland tackle JOE THOMAS has earned his sixth Pro Bowl selection in six seasons in the NFL. RYAN CLADY of Denver rounds out the group with his third trip to the Pro Bowl.

The interior linemen along the AFC defensive front are starters GENO ATKINS of Cincinnati and VINCE WILFORK of New England. Atkins, who has a career-high 13 sacks, earned his second straight All-Star trip, while Wilfork reaches his fifth Pro Bowl. Joining Atkins and Wilfork is four-time All-Star HALOTI NGATA of Baltimore.

Houston’s J.J. Watt and Miami’s CAMERON WAKE have been selected as starters at defensive end. Wake, making his second Pro Bowl appearance, has a career-best 15 sacks in 2012. ELVIS DUMERVIL of Denver will make his third All- Star appearance. Dumervil has reached double-digit sacks (11) for the third time in his career.

Denver’s VON MILLER, the first defensive player selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, has been named a starter at outside linebacker, his second Pro Bowl selection. Miller ranks third in the NFL with 17.5 sacks this season. Joining Miller as a starter at outside linebacker is second-time All-Star TAMBA HALI of Kansas City. Indianapolis’ ROBERT MATHIS is a Pro Bowl selection for the fourth time in his 10-year career.

The AFC middle linebackers are JEROD MAYO of New England and DERRICK JOHNSON of Kansas City. Mayo, the starter, will make his second Pro Bowl appearance. Johnson, who leads the Chiefs’ defense with 119 tackles, has earned his second Pro Bowl berth.

At cornerback, CHAMP BAILEY of Denver and Johnathan Joseph of Houston are the starters. A 12-time All-Star, Bailey owns the most Pro Bowl selections all-time by a defensive back. Joseph has been named an All-Star for the second straight year. ANTONIO CROMARTIE was selected to his second Pro Bowl and first as a Jet.

Baltimore’s ball-hawking free safety ED REED earns his ninth Pro Bowl trip in 11 NFL seasons. Kansas City’s ERIC BERRY, who will start at strong safety, earns his second AFC All-Star berth. Jets’ offseason acquisition LA RON LANDRY joins starting safeties Reed and Berry in his first Pro Bowl.

The AFC special teams unit is comprised of four players, including three first-time Pro Bowl honorees. JACOBY JONES of Baltimore will serve as the AFC’s kick returner in his first Pro Bowl. Jones leads the NFL with two kickoff-return touchdowns in 2012. First-timers PHIL DAWSON of Cleveland and DUSTIN COLQUITT of Kansas City have been chosen for the AFC kicking duties. In his 14th NFL season, Dawson has converted 28 of 29 field goal attempts (96.6 percent) in 2012, best in the AFC. Colquitt, who ranks second in the NFL and first in the AFC with 42 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, will make his All-Star debut as the AFC’s punter. Completing the special teams group will be New England’s wide receiver MATTHEW SLATER, who earned his second selection as the AFC’s special teamer for the Pro Bowl. Slater is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer and seven-time All-Star JACKIE SLATER. They are one of six active father-son duos selected to at least one Pro Bowl apiece (GILL & JAIRUS BYRD, ARCHIE & ELI MANNING, ARCHIE & PEYTON MANNING, CLAY & CLAY MATTHEWS, KELLEN & KELLEN WINSLOW).

The 42-man AFC squad is comprised of 21 offensive and 17 defensive players plus four specialists. A 43rd “need” player will be chosen by the AFC head coach and must be a long snapper. The 2013 AFC coaching staff will be from the team with the best regular-season record that is eliminated in the AFC Divisional playoffs.

The NFL is the only professional sports league that combines voting by fans, coaches and players in determining its All- Star teams. The consensus vote of each group counts one-third towards the total. Each team submits two ballots – those of the coach and the players with no one permitted to vote for a player on his own team.

The American Football Conference defeated the National Football Conference 59-41 last season in the Pro Bowl. The 2013 game is the 43rd between the AFC and NFC All-Stars. The all-time series is tied 21-21. Fans can purchase tickets to the 2013 Pro Bowl at

Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each player on the winning Pro Bowl team receives $50,000, while each player on the losing squad earns $25,000.

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