Five Chicago Bears named to the 2019 Pro Bowl
LAKE FOREST – When you make a sudden leap in the standings, you get recognized quite a bit more in the National Football League.
The Bears are finding that out as they’ve gone from five wins a season ago to ten victories in 2018 with an NFC North title already clinched.
One of those benefits is getting a few more players into the Pro Bowl – the annual showcase of the best in the NFL. This season, a quintet of players have received this honor.
Linebacker Khalil Mack, safety Eddie Jackson, cornerback Kyle Fuller, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, along with return specialist, running back Tarik Cohen have been named to the NFC roster for the contest. It will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on January 27th.
Along with the five guaranteed a spot in the game, seven other players were selected as alternates for those who must miss the game due to injury or are playing in Super Bowl LIII. Those players are quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, tight end Trey Burton, center Cody Whitehair, offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr, linebackers Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan, and Leonard Floyd.
The accomplishment shows the transformation of the franchise, which didn’t have a single player selected for the 2018 Pro Bowl as the suffered through a 5-11 season.
Mack is a big reason for the turnaround, as his acquisition has taken a strong Bears defense to perhaps the best unit in the league. The outside linebacker has 12 1/2 sacks along with six forced fumbles in 12 games this season, and his consistent pressure on the quarterback has aided the Bears’ rise to the third-best defense in yardage allowed (310.9) and points (18.9) per game in 2018.
This is the fourth year in a row that Mack has been selected to the Pro Bowl.
Hicks has helped to anchor the middle of the front seven on the line, and may very well be Ryan Pace’s best free agent signing during his tenure in Chicago. In his third season with the franchise, the defensive end has six sacks and three forced fumbles in 14 games this season as he earns his first career Pro Bowl selection.
That’s the same for two Bears defensive backs chosen to take part in the All-Star game. Fuller’s fifth season has been the best of his career, as he’s tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with seven. That’s nearly double the previous high for the cornerback, who had four interceptions in his rookie season of 2014.
Jackson is right behind him with six interceptions and leads the NFL with defensive touchdowns this season with three (2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery).
While most of his big plays have been made out of the backfield, Cohen gets the nod at the return specialist for his first Pro Bowl appearance. He has 413 yards on 31 punt returns on the season to go along with his eight total touchdowns (2 rushing, 5 receiving, and 1 throwing) in 2018.