The NFL has released the AFC and NFC rosters for the Pro Bowl, and seven Patriots have been chosen: Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo and Matthew Slater.
Six of the seven were also Pro Bowlers last year; only Mayo was not, though he was in 2010.
Gronkowski, Mankins, Mayo and Wilfork are designated as starters, while Brady and Welker are backups. There is only one player from each conference recognized for his special teams play, with Slater getting the nod there.
Peyton Manning, who led all players in fan voting, is the AFC starting quarterback.
This is the eighth time Brady has been a Pro Bowler; it is the fifth for Mankins, Welker and Wilfork, and the second each for Gronkowski, Mayo and Slater.
The Pro Bowl is set to be played Jan. 27, on the Sunday between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl.
UPDATE (8 p.m.): The Patriots have sent an email with comments from the Pro Bowlers who also serve as team captains.
“To be selected to my fifth Pro Bowl is amazing. I am honored and humbled. More importantly, I am proud that the other guys on my team are getting the recognition they deserve.”
“It’s an honor to be recognized by my peers, the coaches and the fans, but it’s more of an honor to be one of seven of my teammates going to Hawaii, since that is a reflection of our overall team success. We’ll all enjoy the recognition tonight with our families and be right back to focusing on the Dolphins in the morning.”
“I am very thankful to be selected to the Pro Bowl. God has blessed me with this opportunity and the ability to stay healthy. I have a lot of people to thank. An honor like this does not come without your teammates next to you making plays. I want to thank coach Belichick for believing in me and taking a chance on me so I can live out my childhood dreams of playing in the NFL. Coach Scott O’Brien has pretty much changed my career with the way he teaches and coaches me. I also need to thank Joe Judge for what he has been able to teach me.”
“We have a lot of guys who earned the honor this year, so that is pretty cool. It’s always nice to have your peers, coaches and fans select you to the Pro Bowl. Getting voted in is always a reflection of our team success. While I do appreciate this recognition, we need to get ready and keep our focus on the game this week against Miami.”
“It is flattering to be selected, but I have always considered Pro Bowl recognition as a reflection of the team’s overall success. I am happy for my many teammates who were selected again this year. I know that there are many others who are equally deserving of the opportunity. One day, I am sure I will have a greater appreciation for individual accomplishments, but this week my focus is simply on our preparations for Miami.”