Bucs snubbed in Pro Bowl selections; QB Freeman, LT Penn and TE Winslow alternates
The Bucs may have the top rookie running back in LeGarrette Blount, top rookie receiver in Mike Williams and quarterback Josh Freeman, who has thrown 23 touchdown passes and six interceptions and owns the best passer rating in the NFC South.
What the Bucs don't have is a Pro Bowl player.
Tampa Bay was shut out of the NFC squad when the league's all-star teams were announced tonight.
Freeman, left tackle Donald Penn and tight end Kellen Winslow were named alternates for the game which will be played Jan. 30 in Honolulu.
The biggest snub may have been Penn. The Packers' Chad Clifton, the Panthers' Jordan Gross and the Eagles Jason Peters were named the tackles on the NFC Pro Bowl team. The Bucs have never had an offensive tackle chosen to the Pro Bowl.
Winslow was bypassed at tight end in favor of the Falcons' Tony Gonzalez and the Cowboys' Jason Witten. Winslow ranks fifth in the NFC among tight ends with his 63 receptions, one behind Gonzalez and four behind Detroit’s Brandon Pettigrew. Only Witten and San Francisco’s Vernon Davis have more touchdowns than Winslow (5) among NFC tight ends.
The NFC quarterbacks were the Eagles' Michael Vick, the Falcons' Matt Ryan and the Saints' Drew Brees. Vick would be the starter, unless the Eagles play in the Super Bowl.
Freeman, 22, has completed 270 of 448 passes (60.3%) this season for 3,196 yards with 23 touchdowns and just six interceptions. His passer rating of 93.6 ranks fourth in the NFC tops Brees and Ryan.
The Bucs were among only four teams that did not have a player named to the Pro Bowl, a list that includes Buffalo, Cincinnati and Seattle. Tampa Bay and Seahawks still are in playoff contention.
Last year, the Bucs did not have a Pro Bowl player for the first time since 1995. That trend could end of one if the NFC players at quarterback, tight end or tackle are unable to play due to injury or other reasons. Of course, several players may be unable to attend if their team is playing in the Super Bowl the following week.
Contributing to the Bucs failure to have a player selected to the Pro Bowl is the fact that they had no prime time television games. In fact, every game was blacked out locally in Tampa Bay.
One other player who would've garnered more consideration was cornerback Aqib Talib, who had six interceptions before he suffered a season-ending hip injury against the Atlanta Falcons earlier this month.