HONOLULU (Feb. 7, 2007) -- Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs and All-Pro center Olin Kreutz dropped out of the Pro Bowl because of injuries.
Four of the NFC champion Bears' eight Pro Bowl selections have been forced to give up starting jobs in the NFL's all-star game because of injuries, including three in the last two days following their loss to Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.
Briggs, who has a left foot injury, will be replaced by Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks, who'll make his 10th straight Pro Bowl appearance after winning the MVP award in last season's game.
Kreutz, a Honolulu native who's wildly popular in his home state, won't be able to make his sixth Pro Bowl appearance because of a right knee injury. Kreutz, who has missed just one start for the Bears since 1999, will be replaced by Dallas center Andre Gurode, while Minnesota's Matt Birk is expected to start in Kreutz's place.
Briggs, a fourth-year pro scheduled to play in his second Pro Bowl, apparently was injured during the Bears' 29-17 loss to the Colts last weekend, though an NFL spokesman didn't know exactly how Briggs was hurt.
Briggs, who had a career-high 130 tackles and two interceptions this season, is the third key contributor to the vaunted Chicago defense who won't be recognized in Hawaii because of an injury.
Linebacker Brian Urlacher dropped out of his sixth Pro Bowl trip with an injured toe, while defensive lineman Tommie Harris relinquished his spot after undergoing season-ending surgery in early December. The Bears also lost safety Mike Brown, a Pro Bowl selection last year, to a foot injury just six games into the regular season.
Antonio Pierce of the New York Giants replaced Urlacher, and Minnesota's Pat Williams replaced Harris.
Brooks, who returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown in last season's Pro Bowl, joins elite company with his latest selection. Brooks, Mike Singletary, Lawrence Taylor and Reggie White are the only players honored as the NFL's defensive player of the year who also have won a Super Bowl and earned at least 10 straight Pro Bowl selections.
Chicago still has four players on the NFC roster: nine-time Pro Bowl guard Ruben Brown, kicker Robbie Gould, rookie kick returner Devin Hester and special-teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo. The Colts have five offensive players on the AFC roster, including Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning.
Only Gould had made it from Miami to Hawaii by Feb. 6. The kicker hopped on a plane Feb. 5, enduring 12 hours of flights to make it to coach Sean Payton's first practice with the NFC squad.
"It took a while coming that far, but hey, you can't beat this weather," said Gould, a first-time Pro Bowl selection.