The NFL announced the rosters for the 2017 Pro Bowl. Mired in a disappointing campaign, the Arizona Cardinals managed to send four starters and two alternates to the league’s all-star game. The four starters are safety Budda Baker, cornerback Patrick Peterson, linebacker Chandler Jones, and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The alternates selected were safety Tyrann Mathieu and running back Adrian Peterson.
Fitzgerald Does it Again
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has now been named to the Pro Bowl 11 times out of his 14 years in the NFL. Fitzgerald started the season in ninth place on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards list. With two games remaining he has already moved up to third on the list and continues to creep towards the second spot in all-time receptions. Fitzgerald needs just eight receptions for another 100 catch season and 14 yards for 1,000 yards receiving on the year.
Jones Out of the Shadows
Linebacker Chandler Jones gets his second overall Pro Bowl invite but his first since coming to the Cardinals. Jones currently leads the NFL with 15 sacks and is two from the franchise record. The outstanding play of Jones has led to talk regarding a Defensive Player of the Year trophy at the end of the season. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of how dominant Jones has been in 2017 is the fact that his pass rushing partner, Markus Golden, has been out for most of the season. Golden led the team with 12.5 sacks in 2016.
Rookie Baker is Special
The rookie safety out of the University of Washington, Budda Baker has been dynamo on special teams, making big tackles and being in the right place at the right time. Baker has 15 tackles on special teams thus far and 59 combined tackles on the season. Baker’s invite may be due to his stellar play in the kick coverage teams, but he has also shown improvement each week on defense. There is no telling how many more times Baker will make the Pro Bowl once he moves full-time to defense.
Peterson’s Got it Covered
Patrick Peterson is making his seventh straight trip to the Pro Bowl. He first made the team as a returner in 2011, before showing the NFL his ability as a shutdown corner. Peterson follows the opponent’s top receiver each game and has not been thrown to very much this season. This explains his one and only interception this season. Even without the attention, Peterson is a top corner when graded by groups like Pro Football Focus. On the season he has nine pass breakups, 28 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu and running back Adrian Peterson were named alternates for the Pro Bowl. It is unlikely that Peterson would be at the game as he is currently on injured reserve due to a neck injury. Peterson had two 100 yard games with the Cardinals after arriving via trade after four games in New Orleans. Peterson showed he has a lot left in the tank and would benefit behind a strong offensive line.
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Mathieu played well in 2017 and has shown no issues after knee surgery just two years ago. The Honey Badger primarily plays in the slot but is instrumental in stopping the run. As alternates both Peterson and Mathieu will be called on when openings on the rosters arise due to injuries or declined invitations. Congratulations to all Pro Bowl players, the game will be played on January 28, 2018, in Orlando, Florida. The game occurs the week between the conference championships and the Super Bowl.