DAVIE—Every year, a bunch of players drop out of the Pro Bowl. Some don’t have a choice if their team makes the Super Bowl, and the inevitable withdrawals could open up spots for Miami players who were left out.
A handful of Dolphins believed they had a shot, and their most notable omissions were Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Jarvis Landry. Suh is thought by many to still be the best or one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL, Wake is on the verge of his fifth double-digit sack season and Landry is second in the league with 98 catches.
Mike Pouncey, Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Cody Parkey also have a chance depending on what happens at their positions. Pro Football Focus’ ratings had Suh and Thomas as deserving of selections.
The math favors Landry more than anyone else because the roster allots for four receivers. That group currently consists of A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown and Keenan Allen. Any injury would open up a spot. Beyond that, Brown is already playing hurt and has the possibility of missing the game because of Pittsburgh reaching the Super Bowl.
Landry leads the Dolphins in receptions, yards (844) and total touchdowns (eight). He is 11th in the AFC in yardage and tied for third in touchdowns. It’s worth mentioning he’s done that while playing on one of the worst offenses in the league and having Jay Cutler as his quarterback.
“I don’t follow it as much as maybe you guys do, but I felt like he would’ve got in,” Cutler said. “I know how valuable he is to this team. I know how valuable he is to me. A ton of catches, a ton of production. Unbelievably unselfish player – blocks, hits people, does everything we want him to. So I was kind of surprised.”
The Steelers and Patriots, both 11-3, are the class of the AFC. If New England makes the Super Bowl, that opens up special teamer Matthew Slater’s spot and three others. If Pittsburgh goes, the AFC will lose seven players (the team’s eighth selection is linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is already out with a spinal injury).
The notable Steelers who could clear the way for Miami players are kicker Chris Boswell and center Maurkice Pouncey. Parkey, whose only missed field goal was from 50 yards, and Mike Pouncey are likely on the alternate list for both spots.
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