ORLANDO, Fla. — Two of the NFL's best offensive linemen and a rising star running back will represent Wisconsin in the Pro Bowl.
Los Angeles Chargers tailback Melvin Gordon, Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick and Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas will compete Sunday in the annual all-star game, which airs live from Orlando at 7 p.m. (CT) on ESPN.
Gordon and Thomas will compete for the AFC team and Frederick will be part of the NFC squad as the Pro Bowl returns to its traditional AFC-NFC format for the first time since 2013. The game is making its debut in Orlando after being played almost exclusively in Honolulu since 1980.
Thomas and Frederick were voted starters for their respective squads, while Gordon was added to the AFC roster as an injury replacement.
Wisconsin has had a representative in 15 of the last 17 Pro Bowls, with nine different players selected during that stretch.
For Thomas, the Pro Bowl nod continues a remarkable streak that has seen him make the all-star game in each of his first 10 seasons in the NFL. He joins Merlin Olsen, Mel Renfro, Barry Sanders and Lawrence Taylor as one of just five players in league history that can make that claim. Even more remarkable is the fact that, through those 10 seasons, Thomas hasn't missed a single play for the Browns — a streak of 9,791 consecutive offensive snaps.
Frederick, who makes his third-consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, was the starting center for what was widely viewed as the NFL's top offensive line. The first-team All-Pro was credited with not allowing a single sack. The Cowboys ranked fifth in the league in total offense, at 376.7 yards per game, and produced the NFL's No. 2 rushing offense, at 149.8 yards per contest.
Following a slow start as a rookie, Gordon broke out in his second pro season. He rushed for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns and caught 41 passes for 419 yards and 2 TDs despite missing San Diego's final three games due to injury.
On Thursday, Thomas will take part in the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown, which pits teams of AFC and NFC players against each another in a series of competitions at Disney's Wild World of Sports complex. In addition to more traditional football skills competitions — "Best Hands" and "Precision Passing" — the event also includes a game of dodgeball, a timed relay race and the "Drone Drop," which features drones dropping footballs from altitude to players waiting below to catch them.
Photo: Wisconsin Badgers
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