INDIANAPOLIS — Two Indianapolis Colts players have for sure punched their tickets for Orlando, Fla., and the 2019 Pro Bowl, but five others have also been recognized for their performances in an impressive comeback season for the organization.
Among those who have been selected as Pro Bowl alternates for this year's game: defensive tackle Denico Autry, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, center Ryan Kelly, linebacker Darius Leonard and quarterback Andrew Luck.
Pro Bowl alternates can be selected to play in the annual NFL all-star game if those named Pro Bowl starters or backups either decline the invitation or cannot play, or are participating in that year's Super Bowl.
Those selected to play in the Pro Bowl from the Colts were tight end Eric Ebron and guard Quenton Nelson.
» Autry has shined in his first opportunity as a regular starter in the NFL. A key free agent signing by the Colts back in March, Autry has established career-highs in solo tackles (26), tackles for loss (12), sacks (9.0), quarterback hits (11) and forced fumbles (2). In Week 13 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Autry logged single-game career-highs in sacks (3) and forced fumbles (2), and the following game, he would be named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after logging two sacks and two tackles for loss in a road victory over the Houston Texans. Those selected as interior defensive linemen for the AFC squad: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals; Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans; and Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers.
» Hilton, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, has been one of the league's top wide receivers once again in 2018; in 12 starts, he has 67 receptions for 1,071 yards and six touchdowns. But Hilton has really turned on the jets the second half of the season for the surging Colts. Since Week 9, Hilton ranks first in the NFL with 718 receiving yards. Those selected at wide receiver for the AFC squad: DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans; Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs; Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers; and Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers.
» Kelly has been able to really elevate his play now in his third year in the league. A first-round pick by the Colts out of Alabama back in 2016, Kelly has been a key piece of one of the top offensive line units in the entire league. Indianapolis has allowed the second-fewest sacks in the NFL, and its sacks-allowed-per-pass-attempt rate (2.8 percent) is tops among all 32 NFL teams. According to Pro Football Focus, Kelly has allowed just one sack all season. Those selected at center for the AFC squad: Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers; and Mike Pouncey, Los Angeles Chargers.
» Leonard has been a sensation at the linebacker position leading the Colts' defense this season. Leonard leads the NFL in total tackles (146) and solo tackles (99), and ranks tied for fourth in forced fumbles (4), but he has made his presence felt in many other ways. He ranks second among all rookies in sacks (7.0) and also has one interception, six passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. Leonard was named the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Month in September, when he finished with 54 total tackles (7.0 for a loss) and 4.0 sacks. Those selected at "outside linebacker" for the AFC squad: Von Miller, Denver Broncos; Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans; and Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs.
» Luck, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has had a resurgent season after missing all of 2017 as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. Heading into Week 16 action, Luck has completed 375-of-557 pass attempts (67.3 percent) for 3,951 yards with 34 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. He ranks second in the NFL in pass attempts and passing touchdowns, and ranks fourth in completions. Those selected to play for the AFC team at quarterback were: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs; Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers; and Tom Brady, New England Patriots.