Aaron Donald and Johnny Hekker make Pro Bowl
On Wednesday the Los Angeles Rams announced defensive tackle Aaron Donald and punter Johnny Hekker were named to the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl. This will be the third appearance for both players.
The Pro Bowl has reverted back to the AFC vs. NFC format after there three year experiment with the “unconferenced” format.
Donald will be the first Rams player to make three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl since wide receiver Torry Holt played in five straight from 2003-07. He is also the first player from the defense to do it since cornerback Jerry Gray earned four invitations from 1986-89.
This is Donald’s third season and he is ranked second in the NFL in tackles for loss, recording 56 in 46 games played since entering the league in 2014. He also has the most sacks by a defensive tackle (27) during that span, and this season Donald has a team-high of 7.0 sacks through 15 games. A constant presence in the other team’s backfield, he leads the NFL in combined QB hurries and knockdowns with 56. Among NFL leaders in quarterback hurries alone, Donald is the only defensive tackle to crack the top five.
Johnny Hekker is making his third trip in four years and he is only the third Rams punter to be invited to the Pro Bowl. The other two are Dale Hatcher in 1985 and Dave Chapple in 1972.
In the Rams’ game against the Atlanta Falcons Hekker tied an NFL record for most punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line (46). Hacker did it in just 79 punts. Dave Zastudil, with whom Hekker shares the record, took 112 punts to reach that mark. In week 9 Hekker kicked a punt for 75 yards and the next week he booted one for 78 yards, the first punter in 20 years to have back-to-back games with punts of 75 yards or more.
Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL will be the site of the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl.
Photos by Claudia Gestro
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