Two leaders of the Ravens’ top-ranked defense and the offense’s top lineman were named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday night.
Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, safety Eric Weddle and right guard Marshal Yanda were honored, the third straight year the team has had at least three players make the all-star roster.
Mosley and Yanda were named starters, while kicker Justin Tucker and left tackle Ronnie Stanley are among the first and second alternates, respectively.
While the Ravens did not have a player lead at their position during the fan voting this season, the Pro Bowl selection process also considers equally the input of players and coaches. Voting concluded last week.
Yanda’s seventh Pro Bowl selection in 12 seasons was a reward for his comeback from a largely lost 2017 and a grueling offseason. He played in just two games last year before suffering a season-ending ankle injury, and shoulder surgery kept him from the team’s five preseason games this year.
Those setbacks have not limited his ability or availability. Analytics website Pro Football Focus rates Yanda as the No. 3 guard in the NFL. He has become one of the driving forces behind the Ravens’ revitalized running game, which has eclipsed 200 yards in four of the past five games and helped power a playoff chase. And since the Ravens’ season-opening blowout of the Buffalo Bills, the 34-year-old has missed just one offensive snap.
“He’s been through a lot, come off some injuries the last couple years, rehabbed really well, and I would say, yes, is playing at his customary high level,” coach John Harbaugh said last month. “I’m really happy that we have him out there. He’s a difference-maker.”
The Ravens’ defensive representatives were far less of a sure thing. The unit leads the NFL in yards allowed per game, but some of its biggest names — Mosley, Weddle and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs — struggled at times this year. And while third-year defensive tackle Michael Pierce and second-year cornerback Marlon Humphrey continued their ascent, they lacked for big plays or impressive stats.
Having a No. 1 defense hasn’t guaranteed heavy Pro Bowl representation. Two years ago, the top-ranked Houston Texans’ unit had only outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney selected. In 2012, the Pittsburgh Steelers led the league in total defense but had no one voted to the Pro Bowl.
Mosley’s selection, his fourth in five seasons in Baltimore, marks the completion of one preseason goal. Some of his others — lead the NFL in tackles, lead all linebackers in interceptions — have proven perhaps too ambitious, but he has again demonstrated his value in the final season of his rookie contract.
Mosley, 26, by far leads the team in total tackles (91) and solo tackles (62) — Weddle is next closest, with 66 and 53, respectively — and is behind only Suggs in tackles for loss (five). When Mosley was sidelined early in the Ravens’ Week 2 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals with a bone bruise, the defense went on to allow a season high in yards.
Weddle has taken criticism this season for his play in open-field situations, and he has just three passes defended and no interceptions through 14 games. But the defense’s signal-caller leads the team in snaps (894, nearly 98 percent), and coaches and teammates have praised his indispensability to the Ravens’ presnap reads and movement.
This is the third Pro Bowl selection in as many years for Weddle, 33, who joined the Ravens in 2016. He was a three-time selection in his first nine years with the San Diego Chargers.
"The quarterback of the back end," defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale called him Tuesday, before selections were announced. "I think that if you asked opposing quarterbacks ... I think he gives them an issue with the way he moves around and orchestrates the back end. And he helps us disguising different things. So I think that's his value. Obviously, being the Pro Bowl safety that he is, that's his value, and he's doing it really well this year as well."
Tucker, the most accurate kicker in the NFL history, is 28-for-30 on field-goal attempts this season, with blocked kicks accounting for both misses. But the one extra-point attempt he missed this season — the first of his college and NFL careers — cost the Ravens a chance to force overtime in the final seconds of a loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Stanley, meanwhile, has played through injuries this season to reliably protect the blind side of quarterbacks Joe Flacco and now Lamar Jackson. He’s rated the No. 19 offensive tackle overall by Pro Football Focus.
Humphrey, whom Martindale on Tuesday called the team’s top cornerback, was the team’s most notable snub.
Pro Bowl rosters
Quarterbacks: Tom Brady, New England; x-Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City; Philip Rivers, L.A. Chargers
Tight ends: Eric Ebron, Indianapolis; x-Travis Kelce, Kansas City
Wide receivers: Keenan Allen, L.A. Chargers ; Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh; x-Tyreek Hill, Kansas City: x-DeAndre Hopkins, Houston.
Tackles: Eric Fisher, Kansas City; x-Taylor Lewan, Tennessee; x-Alejandro Villanueva, Pittsburgh
Guards: x-David DeCastro, Pittsburgh; Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis; x-Marshal Yanda, Baltimore
Running backs: x-James Conner, Pittsburgh, Melvin Gordon, L.A. Chargers; Phillip Lindsay, Denver.
Centers: x-Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh; Mike Pouncey, L.A. Chargers
Defensive ends: x-Myles Garrett, Cleveland; Melvin Ingram, L.A. Chargers; x-J.J. Watt, Houston
Inside/middle Linebackers: Benardrick McKinney, Houston; x-C.J. Mosley, Baltimore
Interior lineman: x-Geno Atkins, Cincinnati; x-Jurrell Casey; Tennessee; Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh
Cornerbacks: Stephon Gilmore, New England; x-Xavien Howard, Miami; x-Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville; Denzel Ward, Cleveland
Outside linebackers: x-Jadeveon Clowney, Houston; Dee Ford, Kansas City; x-Von Miller, Denver
Free safeties: X-Derwin James, L.A. Chargers; Eric Weddle, Baltimore
Strong safety: x-Jamal Adams, N.Y. Jets
Punter: x-Brett Kern, Tennessee
Placekicker: x-Jason Myers, N.Y. Jets
Return specialist: x-Andre Roberts, N.Y. Jets
Special teamer: x-Adrian Phillips, L.A. Chargers
Quarterbacks: x-Drew Brees, New Orleans; Jared Goff, L.A. Rams; Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Tight ends: x-Zach Ertz, Philadelphia; George Kittle, San Francisco
Wide receivers: Davante Adams, Green Bay; x-Julio Jones, Atlanta; Adam Thielen, Minnesota; x-Michael Thomas, New Orleans
Tackles: x-Terron Armstead, New Orleans; x-Tyron Smith, Dallas; Trent Williams, Washington
Guards: x-Brandon Brooks, Philadelphia; x-Zack Martin, Dallas; Trai Turner, Carolina
Running backs: Saquon Barkley, N.Y. Giants; Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas; x-Todd Gurley, L.A. Rams
Centers: x-Alex Mack, Atlanta; Max Under; New Orleans
Fullback: x-Kyle Juszczyk, San Francisco
Defensive ends: Danielle Hunter, Minnesota; x-Cameron Jordan, New Orleans; x-Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas
Inside/middle Linebackers: x-Luke Kuechly, Carolina; Bobby Wagner, Seattle
Interior lineman: x-Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia; x-Aaron Donald, L.A. Rams; Akiem Hicks, Chicago
Cornerbacks: x-Kyle Fuller, Chicago; Byron Jones, Dallas; x-Patrick Peterson, Arizona; Darius Slay, Detroit
Outside linebackers: Anthony Barr, Minnesota; x-Ryan Kerrigan, Washington; x-Khalil Mack, Chicago
Free safeties: x-Eddie Jackson, Chicago; Harrison Smith, Minnesota
Strong safety: Landon Collins, N.Y. Giants
Punter: x-Michael Dickson, Seattle
Placekicker: x-Aldrick Rosas, N.Y. Giants
Return Specialist: x-Tarik Cohen, Chicago
Special teamer: x-Cory Littleton, L.A. Rams