The Green Bay Packers have two players representing the NFC in the 2019 Pro Bowl, as Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams were elected to the initial rosters (though Rodgers withdrew due to his lingering injuries). However, with the Los Angeles Rams advancing to Super Bowl LIII, there was an opportunity for a one particular Packers player to join the roster as a replacement, while an injury opened the door for another
Four Rams were originally on the NFC team: quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, special teamer Cory Littleton, and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. The final player suits up at a positions where the Packers had someone listed as an alternate, as Kenny Clark could have been chosen as the replacement. Meanwhile, it appears that Saints offensive tackle Terron Armstead is pulling out of the game due to injury, putting left tackle David Bakhtiari in play.
However, neither of those two Packers will make the trip to Orlando, as the league has chosen other players to take the two open spots. Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short will make the trip in Donald’s place, while the Bears’ Charles Leno, Jr. will join the NFC team — presumably for Armstead, though the NFL has not officially announced whose place he will take on the team.
In both cases, the Packers would seem to have a better case based on their 2018 seasons. Short had three sacks and 12 tackles for loss this season, while Clark posted six sacks and eight TFLs, plus 13 more total tackles than the Panther. Meanwhile, Bakhtiari was named the NFL’s first-team All-Pro left tackle, while Leno...was not.
In Clark’s case, injury almost certainly played a factor. He ended the Packers’ 2018 season on injured reserve, missing the final three games of the season with an elbow injury. Despite some conflicting reports about his availability late in the year, the IR designation probably ensured that he would not be picked as a Pro Bowl replacement regardless of the situation.
Bakhtiari, meanwhile, may have turned down an invite to be an injury replacement. He has been outspoken about how amusing he finds it that he has been an All-Pro three times despite only making a single Pro Bowl, and it would be fitting for him to decline to participate in Sunday’s game. He also dealt with some nagging injuries as well, but there is no question that he holds a feeling of disrespect towards that event. Frankly, it was ridiculous that he was not a Pro Bowler initially, and it is inconceivable that the Pro Bowl would actually pass him over in favor of Leno.
Meanwhile, the Rams’ other players all have their replacements identified. The Chicago Bears got another Pro Bowler as an alternate, as Mitchell Trubisky is the pick to replace Goff at quarterback. Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey will replace Gurley, and New York Giants safety Michael Thomas takes Littleton’s place as the conference’s designated special teams player.
The Pro Bowl kicks off at 3:00 PM Eastern on Sunday, January 27th.