St. Louis Rams DT Aaron Donald, RB Todd Gurley, P Johnny Hekker Selected for 2016 Pro Bowl


Three St. Louis Rams players were selected to the Pro Bowl roster for the first time since 2006.

The NFL announced its initial pool of Pro Bowl participants on Tuesday night, and the St. Louis Rams were well represented. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, running back Todd Gurley, and punter Johnny Hekker were selected to participate in the NFL’s annual postseason All-Star Game, which will take place on January 31, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

It’s the first time that more than two Rams have been selected for a single Pro Bowl since the 2006 season, when quarterback Marc Bulger, running back Steven Jackson, and wide receiver Torry Holt were all picked to participate. The Rams went 8-8 that season, and they’ll have a chance to finish .500 again in 2015 for the first time since if they can defeat the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in their final two games.

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It will be the second straight Pro Bowl selection for Donald, and he’ll continue his streak of making the Pro Bowl in every season of his NFL career. Donald has a team-leading 11 sacks through 14 games this season, which ranks him sixth overall in the NFL and third among interior defensive linemen, behind only J.J. Watt and Muhammad Wilkerson. Donald also has 64 combined tackles, a total that ranks only behind Watt’s 66 for best in the league among defensive linemen.

Gurley earns a Pro Bowl berth in his first NFL season, becoming the second straight Rams first-rounder to earn a spot in the game as a rookie, following Donald last year. Gurley, who didn’t even debut until Week 3 and didn’t start until Week 4, became the Rams’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012 last week, as well as the first rookie rusher in St. Louis Rams history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. With just 210 carries this season, Gurley ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,023, and he’s tied for third in rushing touchdowns with nine.

Hekker was elected to his second career Pro Bowl, getting back in the game after making it in 2013 but missing out last season. Hekker is tied with Houston’s Shane Lechler for the league lead in punts with 85, and he leads the NFL in both total punt yardage (4,102), average yardage per punt (48.3), and punts inside the 20-yard line (38). Hekker, notorious for his passing ability on trick plays, does have a career-low 33.3 percent completion percentage this year, but he did complete a 20-yard pass to safety Cody Davis on a fake punt in Week 5 against Green Bay.

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All three players, as well as any Rams that might be elected as replacement players later on, will be placed on teams through a televised fantasy draft during the week leading up to the Pro Bowl. Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receivers Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin will serve as the captains for the game.