How many Patriots, 49ers made Pro Bowl team?

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How many Patriots, 49ers made Pro Bowl team?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Tom Brady is one of eight Patriots and Patrick Willis one of eight 49ers to make the Pro Bowl, the most on each roster. Defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay (14-1), led by starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Baltimore (11-4), led by veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, have seven apiece for the Jan. 29 game in Honolulu, the NFL announced Tuesday. Brady is one of seven starters from New England (12-3). The others are receiver Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, defensive end Andre Carter, and guards Brian Waters and Logan Mankins all are starters for the AFC from the Patriots. Special teamer Matthew Slater is the other New England representative. Linebacker Willis, DE Justin Smith, cornerback Carlos Rogers and tackle Joe Staley will start for the NFC from the 49ers (12-3), who had only Smith and Willis make the Pro Bowl last year. Green Bay's Rodgers is the starting NFC quarterback, backed by record-setting Drew Brees of New Orleans (12-3). "It does have special significance, because when I was voted in in 2009, I was the third guy and I was very thankful to be voted in, and got the opportunity to start because of some injuries and guys not going," Rodgers said. "It's great to be voted in as a starter, that means a lot to me and it's a special honor." Four of the NFL's biggest headline makers this season did not get voted in by players, coaches and fans: Lions DT Ndamukong Suh, Steelers LB James Harrison, Panthers rookie QB Cam Newton, and Denver QB Tim Tebow. Suh might have lost support after drawing a two-game suspension for stomping an opponent, and Harrison's one-game suspension for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns QB Colt McCoy might have reduced his support. Fifteen first-time Pro Bowlers made the NFC squad, including Rogers, Staley and safety Dashon Goldson of the 49ers. Thirteen AFC players were first-time selections, including Gronkowski, Carter and Slater of New England. Carter is on injured reserve (left quadriceps) and won't play. "If you look around the NFC, you see a ton of amazing and talented players at tight end," said the Saints' Jimmy Graham, the starter at the position and a first-time Pro Bowler. "And to be thought of in that company by my peers, the head coaches and the fans who follow the NFL is something I take seriously." Fourteen teams from each conference were represented, with St. Louis (2-13) and Washington (5-10) drawing blanks in the NFC, Buffalo (6-9) and Tennessee (8-7) shut out in the AFC. Pittsburgh (11-4), New Orleans and Chicago (7-8) each had five representatives. Three rookies were chosen: Denver linebacker Von Miller, Cincinnati receiver A.J. Green, and Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, selected as a kick return specialist. He has tied an NFL record with four punt runbacks for TDs this season. "As I've said before, A.J. is the best first-round draft pick that I've ever been around," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "He has shown the other players in this league, and the fans, that he deserved this honor. I have not seen a receiver better than he is at getting to the ball." All the kickers are from Bay Area teams. NFC special teamers included two 49ers: record-setting placekicker David Akers, and punter Andy Lee; Peterson; and Corey Graham of Chicago. For the AFC, the Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski is the placekicker, Shane Lechler the punter. The kick return specialist is Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown, and the special-teams player is Slater. NFC starters will be Rodgers, Eagles RB LeSean McCoy, Packers FB John Kuhn, Graham, Panthers C Ryan Kalil, Saints guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks, Eagles tackle Jason Peters and Staley, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald and Lions WR Calvin Johnson on offense. On defense, it will be Vikings DE Jared Allen and Eagles DE Jason Babin, Cowboys DT Jay Ratliff and Smith, Packers OLB Clay Matthews and Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware, ILB Willis, Packers CB Charles Woodson and Rogers, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson. AFC starters will be Brady, Ravens RB Ray Rice and FB Vonta Leach, Gronkowski, Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey, Mankins and Waters at guard, Browns tackles Joe Thomas and Dolphins tackle Jake Long, Welker and Steelers WR Mike Wallace. On defense, it will be Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil replacing Carter, Colts DE Dwight Freeney, Wilfork and Ravens DT Haloti Ngata, Miller and Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs, Lewis, Jets CB Darrelle Revis and Broncos CB Champ Bailey, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Ravens safety Ed Reed. Players who make the Super Bowl will be replaced on the Pro Bowl rosters.

By the bye: Blackhawks keep rolling following break

By the bye: Blackhawks keep rolling following break

When you're on a roll, you hate disrupting it for anything.

The Blackhawks probably felt that in some respect heading into the new NHL-mandated bye week on Feb. 12, but the need for rest usurped any worry on that front. Still, when the Blackhawks reconvened last Friday, the question remained if they could pick up where they left off on that pre-bye, five-game winning streak.

As coach Joel Quenneville said of the unusual break, "we talked about it going into it: you don't know how you're going to come out of it."

Apparently it hasn't been a problem.

The Blackhawks have won two of their first three out of the bye, including their 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

Coming out of this break hasn't been easy for a lot of teams. The Blackhawks, like 11 other teams up to this point, lost their first game out of it. But in that loss to Edmonton, the Blackhawks played well. That continued on Sunday in Buffalo and on Tuesday in Minnesota. Now back in a rhythm schedule-wise, the Blackhawks are hitting their stride performance-wise.

"I thought we played a good game against Edmonton but we still felt there'd be some good will down the road. I thought we continued on with these next two on the road, probably played the same way going into it. So it's been a good stretch for us, and much better than we were at the beginning of the year," Quenneville said. "I like the improvement in our game."

A big part of the Blackhawks' success is finding their four-line rotation.

Jonathan Toews was joined by Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik early in the Ice Show trip, the three were given time to mesh and it's paying productive dividends. The second line is always a threat. Their third and fourth lines are a great combination of defense, skill and youth.

As the lines have started rolling, so have the Blackhawks. Each line had someone score against Buffalo. The top line thrived vs. the Wild. 

"I think all year we kind of expected the offense, coming from Arty's [Artem Anisimov's] line and maybe my line, but what's making us a really good team is our third and fourth line going out there and just battling every shift, just working, giving other teams no time, no chance to make plays with the puck," Toews said. "I think when you can rotate four lines like that, everyone starts to pick up their pace and their speed and then you just rotate in and it doesn't matter who scores on a given night. We're getting contributions from all over the place and it makes you a dangerous team and a tough team to beat."

Instead of taking steam out of the Blackhawks' sails, the bye appears to have re-energized them.

"Yeah it was good for our team," Ryan Hartman said. "We had a few guys who didn't get [rest during] the all-star break. They were still playing, and it was nice for those guys to get away from the rink and kind of get in the sun and take your mind of hockey for a bit, refresh the brain and body. I think we all needed those couple days of rest. As it's looked the last couple of games we've looked fresh and we've been bringing it almost a full 60. I wouldn't say we're quite playing a full 60 but we're really close and that was crucial for us."

Playing a full 60 was one of the Blackhawks' biggest problems earlier this season. Much like the four-line rotation, it's showing up at the right time. The Blackhawks have a great opportunity this week to get closer to the Wild, who started their break on Wednesday.

The issues that plagued the Blackhawks earlier this season are starting to dissipate. They weren't sure how they were going to come out of this break. So far, they've followed rest and relaxation with a rejuvenated game. 

"We're just rolling four lines now. Every line can score and every line's playing the best hockey," Panik said. "That's helped us."

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

Bears add another assistant coach to John Fox's staff

John Fox and the Bears have added another assistant coach.

Zack Azzanni is leaving the University of Tennessee to become the Bears' new receivers coach.

Azzanni has been with Tennessee since 2013 as a receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Prior to that, he spent time at Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Florida, Central Michigan and six seasons at Bowling Green.

Azzanni was on Urban Meyer's coaching staff at Bowling Green in 2001-02 and also coached Pittsburgh Steelers superstar receiver Antonio Brown at Central Michigan. Under Azzanni's tutelage at CMU from 2007-09, Brown totaled 305 receptions for 3,199 yards and 22 TDs, earning a sixth-round draft selection in 2010.

Curtis Johnson spent 2016 as his first season in the role of Bears' wide receivers coach, but announced he was leaving after the Senior Bowl to take a job with the New Orleans Saints.

It's unknown if Azzanni will get a chance to coach Alshon Jeffery (who is currently a free agent) but the incoming coach will have an important job in molding young receivers like Kevin White and Cameron Meredith.