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Patriots Notebook

Another fine showing, as eight are named

Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has 15 touchdowns this season, was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who has 15 touchdowns this season, was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / December 28, 2011
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FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots placed eight players - including quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Wes Welker, and tight end Rob Gronkowski - on the AFC’s Pro Bowl roster for the second year in a row, with a league-high seven picked to start.

Offensive guards Logan Mankins and Brian Waters, defensive linemen Vince Wilfork and Andre Carter, and special teams standout Matthew Slater were also named. Selections were announced last night on NFL Network, with only the 49ers joining the Patriots in having eight players honored. The Packers and Ravens each had seven.

For Brady, it’s the seventh time he has been picked for the game. Waters was selected for the sixth time; the first five were as a Chief. Welker, Wilfork, and Mankins will all be making their fourth appearance, while Gronkowski, Carter, and Slater are first-time selections. All but Slater were chosen as starters.

It’s Welker’s fourth consecutive selection, and the third straight season that Brady, Wilfork, and Mankins have been picked.

Carter, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve last week with a quadriceps injury, won’t play in the Jan. 29 game, which again will be held in Honolulu. The others are hoping they won’t be able to play in the Pro Bowl, either, but for a much different reason. Since the game is played the Sunday before the Super Bowl, anyone gearing up for the title game receives an excused absence from the Pro Bowl.

Brady (4,897 passing yards), Welker (116 receptions, 1,518 yards), and Gronkowski (1,219 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns) were slam-dunk selections. Mankins, Waters, and Wilfork are also considered the elite at their positions. Carter had a team-high 10 sacks, while Slater has emerged as a special teams coverage star, with 17 tackles.

Tight end Aaron Hernandez and punter Zoltan Mesko were also strong candidates, and still could be named as alternates. But those two, like the other eight, are hoping to be preparing for a week in Indianapolis and Super Bowl XLVI when the Pro Bowl kicks off from Hawaii.

Light improving

Offensive tackle Matt Light, who was scrapped two hours before Saturday’s game with a right ankle injury, wasn’t walking in any apparent discomfort yesterday, and expressed hope that he’ll be able to play Sunday against the Bills.

“We’re getting there. Just wasn’t able to go the other day, unfortunately,’’ said Light. “It’s a rough deal, game day, having to make that decision, but we’ll work this week and we’ll get back out there. It’s feeling better.’’

Light was asked about presenting Patriots owner Robert Kraft with a customized painting dedicated to his late wife, Myra, following the win against the Dolphins.

“Every guy in this organization, whether you’ve been here six months or 11 years, you realize the importance of this organization, not just football, but you realize off the field, how much it means to the Kraft family and this organization to represent yourself in a certain way and live your life a certain way, keep family at the top of the list,’’ Light said.

“I think to each guy in this locker room, we wanted to be able to tell Mr. Kraft and his family that we understand this has been a tough year, and we wanted to commemorate that with something that was one-of-a-kind, that was special, that really talked to what we dedicated the season to, and that’s Myra.

“I think that it was a neat way for us to all come together and do something for him. This was something that we could do, each guy, each coach, each player, to show him how much we’re behind him and how much she meant to all of us, and the impact she’s left on all of us.

“It was a cool moment, it was really nice to be able to get a win, then be able to present that to him.’’

Silvestro up to speed

Defensive end Alex Silvestro was promoted to the 53-man roster last week following the injury to Carter, and made his NFL debut against the Dolphins. He was an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers.

Asked how long it took him to feel comfortable, Silvestro said, “Definitely a couple snaps. First couple it was more like a nerves thing, but after a while I figured I was playing a little better.

“Being in the group with all these experienced people, I’ve just come in this year and talked to pretty much anyone. They know the game a lot better than I do, so I’ve just tried to learn from them. That’s helped me all year.’’

Polite on board

The Patriots made two roster moves, signing fullback Lousaka Polite to the 53-man roster, and defensive back Malcolm Williams to the practice squad. Polite, 30, has career totals of 296 rushing yards (on 95 carries), 233 receiving yards (on 41 catches), and two touchdowns. He has played seven seasons, with the Cowboys (2004-06), Bears (2007), and Dolphins (2008-10), who released him in September. Williams was drafted by the Patriots this year in the seventh round, released in August, and has had two stints on the practice squad. He played in the Dec. 11 game at Washington, and was most recently released Dec. 15.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

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