CINCINNATI - Three Bengals have been added to the AFC squad for next Sunday's Pro Bowl, brining the total number of players from Cincinnati to four.
Quarterback Andy Dalton, defensive tackle Geno Atkins, and tight end Jermaine Gresham have been added to the roster for this year's game.
Dalton and Atkins were both first alternates in last month's voting, and Gresham was a third alternate. All three will replace New England players who were removed from the squad today when the Patriots won the AFC Championship and qualified for Super Bowl XLVI.
Dalton is replacing New England quarterback Tom Brady, Atkins will take the place of Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and Gresham will replace Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. The league announced two alternates voted ahead of Gresham, but are not available for the game.
The Bengals have a total of four players headed for the Pro Bowl, as wide receiver A.J. Green was voted to the AFC team last month. The four players have a total of only six years' NFL experience, as Atkins and Gresham were second-year players in 2011 while Dalton and Green were rookies
Dalton and Green form the first rookie quarterback- wide receiver duo from the same team ever to be in the Pro Bowl.
The last time the Bengals had as many as four players in the Pro Bowl was the 2005 season. Five players made it in '05 -- offensive tackle Willie Anderson, kicker Shayne Grahan, wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, cornerback Deltha O'Neal and quarterback Carson Palmer.
Dalton is the first rookie quarterback to make the Pro Bowl since Vince Young of Tennessee in the 2006 season. A second-round draft choice from TCU, Dalton in 2011 led the Bengals to a playoff berth and became the first rookie quarter back in NFL history to start as many as eight wins and also throw 20 or more touch down passes. Dalton also became the first NFL rookie to start every game of a 16-game regular season, much less start 16 and lead his team to the playoffs.
Dalton and A.J. Green are the first Bengals rookies to make the Pro Bowl since wide receiver Cris Collinsworth in the 1981 season.
This year's Pro Bowl, which will be played in Honolulu, will kick off next Sunday at 7 p.m. EST.