INDIANAPOLIS —That whole thing about the Indianapolis Colts not having a Pro Bowl representative for the first time since 1997? Forget about it.
The NFL announced this morning that Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will, indeed, play in this year’s Pro Bowl in place of injured Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, extending Indy's Pro Bowl streak to 20 years.
Last month, the league announced the rosters for the 2018 Pro Bowl, a list of starters and backups that, for the first time since 1997, did not include a Colts player. It was going to be only the ninth year in Colts franchise history the team did not have a Pro Bowl selection (joining the 1978, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1991, 1993 and 1997 seasons).
But there was always a possibility some Colts players listed as alternates, like Hilton, could end up making an appearance in the game — which will be played Sunday, Jan. 28, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. — after all.
And there's a chance even more Colts players could also join Hilton in Orlando later this month, as the original Pro Bowl starters and backups continue to decide whether or not to accept the invitation to play in the game; or if they can't play anyway due to their teams advancing to the Super Bowl the following week in Minneapolis.
Pro Bowl alternate lists are not typically released by the league, however, so stay tuned over the next couple weeks to see if any other Colts players get selected to play in the game.
Just who could be those Indianapolis alternate possibilities? Here are a few possible options:
• Tight end Jack Doyle:Doyle's career-best 80 receptions were the second-most by a tight end in the NFL in 2017, and are the second most by a tight end in a single season in Colts franchise history. Also a solid run blocker, Doyle finished his season with a career-high 690 yards and added four receiving touchdowns.
• Left tackle Anthony Castonzo:While offensive linemen are hard to evaluate with most common stats, Castonzo had, by most accounts, perhaps his best-overall season in his seven-year NFL career in 2017. Castonzo's 81.8 overall grade by Pro Football Focus entering Week 17 was the 13th best at his position in the NFL. Castonzo also didn't miss a single snap for the Colts' offense the entire season.
• Safety Matthias Farley:In just his second NFL season, and his first as a full-time starter, Farley was a standout in the Colts' defensive secondary, ranking third on the team with 95 tackles (four for a loss), while he also had three quarterback hits, two interceptions, seven passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
• Outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard:Sheard was one of the more disruptive pass rushers in the league in 2017, as he entered the Colts' Week 17 game against the Houston Texans ranked second in the NFL with 39 quarterback hurries, trailing only the Dallas Cowboys' Demarcus Lawrence (45). On the year, Sheard tallied 52 tackles (eight for a loss) with a team-best 5.5 sacks, three passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
• Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins: In his first season along the Colts' defensive line, the fifth-year Ohio State product Hankins was as solid as advertised after four quality years with the New York Giants. Playing his role well for the Colts in their 3-4 defensive scheme, Hankins had 44 total tackles (four for a loss) with two sacks, five quarterback hits and three passes defensed.
• Kicker Adam Vinatieri: The Week 5 AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, Vinatieri just continued to produce at a high level. The 22-year NFL veteran connected on 85.3 percent of his field goal attempts (29-of-34) and 91.7 percent of his extra-point tries (22-of-24).
• Punter Rigoberto Sanchez: An undrafted rookie, Sanchez was able to prove his worth as Pat McAfee's replacement, as he punted 84 times for 3,764 yards (an average of 44.8 yards per punt), with 28 punts inside the 20-yard line. His 42.6 net punting average ranked fourth in the NFL.