James Conner among 6 Steelers players selected for Pro Bowl
James Conner’s emergence in his first season as a starting running back did not go unnoticed by his NFL peers.
Conner, the second-year running back from Pitt who was tasked with replacing Le’Veon Bell this season, was selected to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday night. He was one of six Pittsburgh Steelers players selected to play in the postseason all-star game, which will be Jan. 27 in Orlando, Fla.
Also selected were wide receiver Antonio Brown, center Maurkice Pouncey, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, right guard David DeCastro and defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.
With seven players, the Los Angeles Chargers were the only team with more Pro Bowlers than the Steelers.
Conner leads the Steelers and is 10th in the NFL with 909 yards rushing despite missing the past two games because of an ankle injury. Conner’s 12 rushing touchdowns are tied for second among running backs.
The other Steelers first-time selection is Heyward, who was picked as an injury replacement last season when he also was named to the All-Pro team. Heyward has 46 tackles and six sacks this season.
Brown, who leads the NFL with 13 touchdown receptions, was selected for the seventh time in his career and sixth in a row. DeCastro was picked for the fourth consecutive season, Pouncey for the third year in a row (and seventh time overall), and Villanueva was recognized for the second year in a row.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who ranks second in the NFL with 4,462 passing yards, was not one of the three AFC quarterbacks selected. The AFC quarterbacks picked were Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Patrick Mahomes. Also snubbed was receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who had 95 receptions for 1,274 yards in his second NFL season.
When fan balloting, which comprises one-third of the selection process, concluded last week, the Steelers had the top vote getters at eight positions. Conner, Brown, Villanueva, DeCastro and Pouncey led their respective positions, as did inside linebacker Vince Williams and special teams player Roosevelt Nix.
Last season, the Steelers had eight players picked, the most among NFL teams and their highest allotment since 2005 when they had nine players selected.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.