Former Georgia standouts continue to shine at the professional level as three UGA greats will be playing in the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl. Receiver A.J. Green and defensive tackle Geno Atkins will be representing the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC while outside linebacker Thomas Davis will be representing the Carolina Panthers in the NFC.
This will not be the first trip to the all-star for these NFL veterans; the 2017 Pro Bowl will mark Green’s 6th appearance, Atkins’ 5th and Davis’ 2nd. All are returning pro bowlers from last season.
For Green, many wondered if his production would decline this year as a result of the Bengals losing their No. 2 (Marvin Jones) and No. 3 (Mohamed Sanu) receivers to free agency in the offseason. Losing talent around Green meant teams could put more focus on the Summerville (SC) native.
However, the opposition quickly discovered that Green was capable of acting as a one-man-show, getting open more than ever. Green finished his 2016 campaign with 66 receptions for 964 yards and 4 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Green’s season was riddled with injuries causing him to miss six weeks which ultimately led to his first sub-1,000 yard season of his six year career. Green was just 36 yards shy of joining Randy Moss as the only receivers in NFL history to record 1,000 receiving yards in each of their first 6 seasons. Prior to his injury, Green was on pace to finish 2016 with 1,542 receiving yards, which would have been a career high.
Geno Atkins, who has proven to be a beast in the trenches since entering the NFL in 2010, will be playing in his 5th Pro Bowl. Over the last two seasons Atkins has recorded 19.5 sacks, with 8.5 of those coming this season, which ranked him number one among all defensive tackles. In fact, the South Florida native has led defensive tackles in sacks three times in his career.
Former NFL Man of the Year award winner Thomas Davis will be playing in his first NFL Pro Bowl (he was voted in last year but did not play because his Panthers were participating in the Super Bowl the following week). Towards the end of this season, when star linebacker Luke Kuechly went down with a concussion forcing him to miss the remainder of the season, Davis stepped in and led the Panthers in tackles with 106, his 5th consecutive 100+ tackle season.