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Five Ravens headed to Pro Bowl

Five Ravens, including two first-timers, were named to the AFC team during the NFL Network's Pro Bowl show Tuesday night. Leading the way – as usual – were linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed. Also selected in a vote of players, coaches and fans were defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and running back Ray Rice, both for the first time, and fullback Le'Ron McClain, going for the second straight season.

The Pro Bowl will be played on Jan. 31 in Miami's Dolphin Stadium. It had been played in Hawaii the past 30 years.

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Lewis, Reed, McClain and Ngata all go as starters. A sixth Raven, guard Ben Grubbs, was named first alternate and would go if the player in front of him is unable to play because of injury.

Lewis' selection was the 11th in a 14-year career and fourth in a row. He leads the team with 152 tackles, along with three sacks, three forced fumbles and six pass breakups.

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"This is always an honor," he said in a statement released by the team. "I don't take it for granted. To be recognized by yours peers, the coaches and the fans is a privilege."

Reed gained his sixth Pro Bowl in eight years even though he missed the last three games with a hip injury. He went in 2008 with an NFL-high nine interceptions; this year he'll go with three.

While Lewis and Reed have been Pro Bowl mainstays, Ngata finally earned his first invitation after being overlooked a year ago, when he had 77 tackles and two interceptions. Through 15 games this season, Ngata has 40 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

"I've been working so hard to be one of the best ever since I entered the NFL," Ngata said. "This is unbelievably gratifying and a great honor. As a player in college, you just want to get to the league. If you're fortunate enough to make it to this level, everyone then dreams of going to the Pro Bowl."

The fourth-year veteran then thanked those who most helped him reach the Pro Bowl.

"Without the other D-linemen on our team, I wouldn't be able to do the things I do," he said. "I'm thankful for guys like Kelly Gregg, who has taught me so much about technique and been a great role model. Trevor Pryce, Justin Bannan and Dwan Edwards have helped me grow, and they push me every day. Coach [Clarence] Brooks is somebody who makes me better and constantly demands the best out of me. None of this is possible without any of these guys, so that's why this is a group award."

Rice goes as a reserve after rushing for 1,269 yards in his second NFL season. His 1,952 scrimmage yards rank second in the NFL behind Tennessee's Chris Johnson, and he has generated at least 100 yards from scrimmage in 12 of his 15 games.

"This is such an honor," Rice said. "Even though I'm going as an individual, I consider this a team award. I want to thank all my teammates and coaches who have made this possible. Growing up, I dreamed of playing in the NFL, but making the Pro Bowl is surreal. I've always played the game in hopes of earning other people's respect, and knowing that the fans, coaches and players voted for me is humbling. I promise to represent the Ravens organization and city of Baltimore by continuing to do nothing but my best."

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