Bears DE Julius Peppers is one of the league's best defensive ends, and WR-RS Devin Hester is arguably the greatest kick returner of all time, but they weren't shown any disrespect by not being named to the NFC Pro Bowl team this season.
The Pro Bowl rosters were released Tuesday, and five Bears players — Lance Briggs, Matt Forté, Corey Graham, Charles Tillman and Brian Urlacher — were named to the NFC squad. Peppers, who had been named to three straight Pro Bowls heading into this season, and Hester, a three-time Pro Bowler, were the most noticeable Bears absent from the list. They were reportedly both named as first alternates.
Cardinals rookie Patrick Peterson made the team ahead of Hester, and the NFC defensive ends are the Vikings' Jared Allen, the Eagles' Jason Babin and the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul.
Peterson, who returns punts but not kickoffs, has been absolutely electric this season. He has returned a league-high four punts for touchdowns. Hester, who has two punt returns for touchdowns, is the only other player with more than one, and he also has one kickoff return for a TD. That's still one fewer special-teams TD than Peterson has. Hester has a higher punt-return average, but it's only 1.4 yards greater than Peterson's, and Peterson has returned 14 more punts than Hester.
Allen (18½ sacks), Babin (18 sacks) and Pierre-Paul (15½ sacks) have each outproduced Peppers, who has 10 sacks. Peppers has been dominant at times this season, and he showed great toughness playing through the knee injury (reportedly a sprained MCL) he initially suffered in Week Five for a good portion of the season. However, although he actually has more sacks than he did last season (eight), 2010 was a better year for Peppers. He has not been as disruptive this season.
If any NFC defensive end was snubbed Tuesday, it was Lions DE Cliff Avril, who has 11 sacks this season and leads the NFC with six forced fumbles. He has also scored two TDs.
Peppers are Hester are rare talents, but there was no injustice done to them on Tuesday.
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