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Chargers, Bears have most Pro Bowlers

The San Diego Chargers will power the American Football Conference's 2007 Pro Bowl squad with a conference-high nine players -- the most in franchise history -- when the AFC faces the National Football Conference All-Stars, the NFL announced today.

(Dec. 19, 2006) -- The San Diego Chargers will power the American Football Conference's 2007 Pro Bowl squad with a conference-high nine players -- the most in franchise history -- when the AFC faces the National Football Conference All-Stars, the NFL announced today. The game will be played on Saturday, February 10, in Honolulu, Hawaii (CBS, 6 p..m. ET).

Nine members of the AFC roster are first-time All-Stars, including Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, in his first year as a starter, and three of his San Diego teammates. The Chargers own the conference's best record at 12-2.

Helping Rivers at the AFC's quarterback position will be Indianapolis' Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer of Cincinnati. Manning leads the NFL in touchdowns (26) and passer rating (99.0) and will start for the AFC in his seventh trip to Aloha Stadium. The Colts' QB led all NFL players in Pro Bowl fan balloting with 1,183,468 votes. Palmer earned his second consecutive All-Star selection, standing No. 2 in the AFC to Manning in both TD passes (24) and passing yards (3,575).

A pair of Chargers will start in the AFC's backfield: running back LaDainian Tomlinson and fullback Lorenzo Neal. Named to his fourth Pro Bowl, Tomlinson already has scored an NFL-record 31 touchdowns on the season. Playing in his third Pro Bowl and his second as a Charger, Neal has helped open holes for Tomlinson, who leads the NFL with 1,626 rushing yards. Neal boasts the NFL's best mark of seven-for-seven on third-and-one rushes for first downs.

Adding to the AFC's backfield's punch will be Kansas City's Larry Johnson and Willie Parker of Pittsburgh. This is the second consecutive Pro Bowl trip for Johnson, who ranks second in the league with 1,516 yards rushing. Parker ties for third in the NFL with 11 rushing TDs and will wear the AFC Pro Bowl uniform for the first time in his three-year career.

QB Manning will have familiar faces to throw to as Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne suit up for their eighth and first Pro Bowls, respectively. The Indianapolis receiving duo marks the first time that two Colts receivers have been All-Star selections. Harrison has five Pro Bowl TDs, tied for the game's career record. Starting at the team's wideout positions will be a "Johnson & Johnson" combination -- Andre Johnson of Houston, who leads the NFL with 97 receptions, and Cincinnati's Chad Johnson, whose 1,247 receiving yards top the league. The '07 game is the Texans' Johnson's second Pro Bowl while the Bengals' Johnson makes his fourth trip.

Representing the AFC at tight end will be eight-time all-star Tony Gonzalez of the Chiefs and the Chargers' Antonio Gates, who will play in his third consecutive Pro Bowl and get the start.

Equaling a Pro Bowl record for games played will be guard Will Shields, who will wear his Chiefs helmet under the Hawaii sun for the 12th time, tying Randall McDaniel (12) for the game's career service record. Joining Shields at the other starting guard position is Pittsburgh's Alan Faneca, making his sixth consecutive AFC squad. Shields' KC teammate Brian Waters was tabbed for his third straight Pro Bowl for the American Conference. This is the first time in history that a team has had the same two guards selected for three consecutive Pro Bowls.

AFC starting center Jeff saturday will snap to Manning for the second consecutive Pro Bowl as he has for the past eight years in Indy. First-time AFC All-Star Nick Hardwick of San Diego is the conference's center of choice behind Saturday.

Charged with keeping NFC defensive ends at bay are a pair of AFC North tackle mainstays: Jonathan Ogden of Baltimore, playing in his 10th consecutive Pro Bowl in his 11 NFL seasons, and Cincinnati's Willie Anderson, who will travel to Hawaii for the fourth consecutive year. Fans, players, and coaches also voted in Tarik Glenn of Indianapolis for his third Pro Bowl in a row.

Starting defensive interior linemen Richard Seymour of New England and San Diego's Jamal Williams are the core of the AFC defensive unit. Seymour, the lone Patriot on the squad, faces the NFC's best for the fifth time. Williams will play in Hawaii for a second time. Casey Hampton, one of four Steelers in the game, fortifies this AFC DL position in his third Pro Bowl.

A trio of double-digit sack artists will aim to hurry NFC passers: Buffalo's Aaron Schobel (13.5), Jason Taylor (12.5) of Miami, and Oakland's Derrick Burgess (11.0). Schobel, a former college teammate of Tomlinson's at TCU, joins him on the AFC sideline in his first Pro Bowl selection. Starting opposite Schobel is five-time All-Star Taylor. Burgess represents the Raiders in Hawaii for the second consecutive year.

Outside linebacker Adalius Thomas, who has added to his sack total of 10.5 in eight of the past 10 games, is one of four Ravens on defense. Playing in his second Pro Bowl, Thomas is joined by fellow outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, free safety Ed Reed and cornerback Chris McAlister. Thomas and Reed, in his third NFL All-Star Game, have starting assignments. This marks McAlister's third Pro Bowl and Suggs' second.

Joining Thomas and Suggs at outside linebacker and starting is San Diego's Shawne Merriman, participating in the game for the second time in his two-year career.

Patrolling the middle of the AFC defense will be middle linebackers Al Wilson of Denver and Miami's Zach Thomas. Wilson gets the start in his third Pro Bowl while Thomas represents the Dolphins a seventh time -- the most All-Star distinctions by any defender in team history.

A total of 15 interceptions are shared between starting cornerbacks Champ Bailey (eight) of Denver and Jacksonville's Rashean Mathis (seven). This marks Bailey's seventh consecutive Pro Bowl and his third in a Denver uniform. Mathis makes his All-Star debut and is the first corner in Jaguars history selected to the AFC roster.

Along with the Ravens' Reed in the defense's deep center is free safety John Lynch of Denver and starting strong safety Troy Polamalu of Pittsburgh. This will be Polamalu's third consecutive Pro Bowl trip and the eighth such honor for Lynch, his third consecutive as a Bronco.

The AFC special teams feature three first-time Pro Bowl honorees. New York kick returner Justin Miller tops the NFL with a 28.7-yard average and is the only player in the AFC this season to return two kickoffs for touchdowns. San Diego wide receiver Kassim Osgood, who will serve as the AFC's special teamer, makes his Hawaii debut as will teammate Nate Kaeding, who has split the uprights on 22 of 25 field-goal attempts (88.0 percent) on the year. The All-Star veteran of the group is Buffalo punter Brian Moorman, who earned his second consecutive honor. Moorman tops the AFC with a 39.5 net average and has placed 29 of his 83 punts inside his opponents' 20-yard line.

The Chicago Bears placed a conference-high seven players on the National Football Conference All-Star team that will face the American Football Conference All-Stars in the 2007 Pro Bowl on Saturday, February 10 in Honolulu, Hawaii (CBS, 6:00 PM ET), the NFL announced today.

Thirteen NFC players will participate in their first Pro Bowl, including Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who has won six of his first eight career starts and guided the Cowboys to a playoff birth.

Three of the Bears' Pro Bowl players -- special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo, kicker Robbie Gould and rookie kick return specialist Devin Hester -- are also first-time All-Stars. They join six-time All-Stars Olin Kreutz and Brian Urlacher and two-time All-Stars Lance Briggs and Tommie Harris to form the largest Chicago contingent in Hawaii since seven Bears were chosen to participate in the 1987 Pro Bowl.

Joining Romo at quarterback are two-time All-Stars Drew Brees of New Orleans, who will start, and St. Louis' Marc Bulger. Brees, who leads the NFL with 4,240 passing yards, is the second quarterback in Saints history to be named to the Pro Bowl (Archie Manning, 1979-80). Brees was an All-Star with the San Diego Chargers in 2005 and is the fourth quarterback to be selected to the Pro Bowl for both the AFC and NFC (John Hadl, Joe Montana and Warren Moon). Bulger passed for a Pro Bowl record four touchdowns and was named the player of the game in the 2004 All-Star contest.

Starting at running back for the NFC will be first-time All-Star Frank Gore of the San Francisco 49ers, who leads the NFC in rushing with 1,491 yards. St. Louis running back Steven Jackson, who tops the conference with 1,916 scrimmage yards, also will make his Pro Bowl debut.

New York Giants three-time All-Star running back Tiki Barber will team with his brother Ronde, a cornerback and four-time Pro Bowl choice from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the NFC squad for the third year in a row. The Barbers are the second set of NFL brothers to be named to the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons (Shannon and Sterling Sharpe, 1993-95). They are the only set of twins to be chosen for the Pro Bowl.

Filling out the backfield is Seattle fullback Mack Strong, who makes his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance.

The NFC's starting wide receivers are six-time All-Star Torry Holt of the St. Louis Rams and Carolina's Steve Smith, who will make his third trip to Honolulu and second as a wide receiver. Two-time All-Stars Anquan Boldin of Arizona (2004) and Donald Driver of Green Bay (2003) fill out the position.

A pair of four-time All-Stars represent the NFC at tight end in Atlanta's Alge Crumpler and the New York Giants' Jeremy Shockey. Crumpler, who leads NFC tight ends with 677 yards, will be the starter.

First-time All-Star Shawn Andrews of Philadelphia and Minnesota's Steve Hutchinson, who will make his fourth consecutive trip to Hawaii, will start at guard. Joining them is the most tenured member of the NFC All-Stars in San Francisco guard Larry Allen, who has been chosen to the Pro Bowl 11 times.

Another member of the Vikings' offensive line will be Matt Birk, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, who joins starter Kreutz of the Bears at the center position.

The starting tackles are Seattle's Walter Jones, a seven-time All-Star, and New Orleans' Jammal Brown, who will make his Pro Bowl debut. Washington's Chris Samuels, making his fourth appearance on the NFC squad, is the NFC's third tackle.

Earning his third consecutive Pro Bowl berth is Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, who was named a starter. A pair of Pro Bowl newcomers joins Peppers at defensive end in Green Bay's Aaron Kampman and New Orleans' Will Smith, who was selected as the other NFC starter at the position.

The starters on the interior defensive line are Chicago's Harris and Minnesota's Kevin Williams, who played in the 2005 Pro Bowl. The other member of the group is Carolina's Kris Jenkins, a three-time All-Star choice.

Seattle's Lofa Tatupu, a two-time selection, will join Chicago's Urlacher as the NFC's inside linebackers. Urlacher, who will start, is the first Bears linebacker to be named to six Pro Bowls since Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Singletary was chosen for 10.

The outside linebackers are Chicago's Briggs, Seattle's Julian Peterson and Dallas' DeMarcus Ware. Peterson was selected to two Pro Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers (2003-04) while Ware will play in his first All-Star game. Briggs and Ware were named the starters for the NFC team.

Atlanta's DeAngelo Hall will man one of the NFC's cornerback positions for the second consecutive season, joining Tampa Bay's Barber as the conference's starters. Hall and Deion Sanders (1992-94) are the only Falcons cornerbacks to be named to back-to-back Pro Bowls. Philadelphia's Lito Sheppard, an NFC All-Star in 2005, is the third NFC cornerback.

Sheppard's Eagles teammate Brian Dawkins, making his sixth Pro Bowl appearance, will start at free safety. Adrian Wilson of the Arizona Cardinals, in his Pro Bowl debut, received the starting nod at strong safety. The NFC's other strong safety is Dallas' Roy Williams, a four-time honoree.

A quartet of Pro Bowl rookies will handle special teams duties for the NFC. In addition to Chicago's Ayanbadejo, Gould and Hester, the unit features Dallas punter Mat McBriar, who played three seasons at the University at Hawaii.

The 42-man AFC and NFC squads are comprised of 21 offensive and 17 defensive players plus four specialists. A 43rd "need" player will be chosen by the head coach and must be a cornerback, defensive end, linebacker or long snapper.

The NFL is the only professional sports league that combines voting by fans, coaches and players in determining its all-star teams. The consensus vote of each group counts one-third towards the total. Each team submits two ballots -- those of the coach and the players with no one permitted to vote for a player on his own team. This year, nearly 70 million fan votes (69.8 million) were cast on, in stadiums and via Sprint or Nextel wireless.

The NFC defeated the AFC 23-17 last season in the Pro Bowl. The all-time series is tied 18-18. The 2007 AFC coaching staff will be from the AFC Championship Game runner-up team and the same goes for the NFC squad.

Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each player on the winning Pro Bowl team receives $40,000, while each player on the losing squad earns $20,000.

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