Vikings players decry dearth of Pro Bowl picks
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Vikings had four players selected for the Pro Bowl, but they were expecting more.
Named Tuesday night to the NFL's Jan. 28 all-star game in Orlando, Fla., were defensive end Everson Griffen, linebacker Anthony Barr, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and wide receiver Adam Thielen.
"There definitely should've been more, in my opinion," Thielen said Wednesday, Dec. 20.
The most notable snubs were safety Harrison Smith, who made the Pro Bowl the past two seasons, and nose tackle Linval Joseph, who was chosen last year. The two have played key roles in the Vikings (11-3) ranking second in the league in scoring and total defense.
"Those guys are the best defense in football, in my opinion," tight end Kyle Rudolph said. "And to only have three guys represented, I don't think is correct."
Rudolph said he was disappointed at not being selected.
"Absolutely," he said. "That's how it goes. It's two years in a row for me (at being snubbed), so I'm getting used to it."
Rudolph made the Pro Bowl in 2012, his second season, but not since. He had 83 catches for 840 yards last season and has 55 for 523 yards this year while being a more efficient receiver.
Beating Rudolph out for the two NFC spots at tight end were Philadelphia's Zach Ertz, who has 63 catches for 719 yards, and Seattle's Jimmy Graham, who has 53 for 472 yards.
Players were chosen by one-third vote each by fans, players and coaches. Alternates will be selected as injury replacements and for players participating in the Super Bowl.
Griffen and Barr were picked for the third straight year, Rhodes for the second straight year and Thielen for the first time.
"It's definitely a great honor being voted in by your peers, the fans, the coaches," Rhodes said.
Thielen thanked his teammates for his selection.
"It's obviously an honor," he said. "It's something that it's not just my award, it's a team award. Obviously, you've got to have a great offensive line, a great quarterback and guys around you who believe in you and help you."
Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs seemed more thrilled than Thielen about the news.
"I was so excited for one of our guys, especially one of the guys in our room," Diggs said. "As far as him being my brother, one that I see not only work hard, but work his (butt off)."
Diggs joined in the chorus of Vikings saying they should have had more than four players named.
"I saw something about Harry's numbers and Harry definitely should have been in there based off the numbers I saw," Diggs said of Smith, ranked as the the top safety in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer didn't give names, but said some other players on his team should have been picked. What made Zimmer happy, though, was the team-first responses he got from the four who did make it.
"The good thing about these guys, every one of them that I texted (Tuesday) night that made the Pro Bowl, they all talked about that's not really their goal," Zimmer said. "That was nice."
Cornerback Tramaine Brock, who suffered a foot injury in last Sunday's 34-7 win over Cincinnati, was the only Vikings player not to practice Wednesday.
Tackle Riley Reiff (ankle) and cornerback Mackensie Alexander (rib), who both missed the Bengals game, were listed as limited. Also limited were Rudolph (ankle), center Pat Elflein (shoulder) tackle Mike Remmers (lower back), safety Andrew Sendejo (ankle) and receiver Jarius Wright (foot).
The Vikings practiced outdoors in 20-degree temperatures in preparation for Saturday's game at Green Bay, when temperatures for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Lambeau Field are projected to be just above zero.