Rams Donald and Hekker Earn Repeat Pro Bowl Bids
DT Aaron Donald and P Johnny Hekker Earn Their Third Invitation to the NFL's Annual All-Star Game
December 15, 2016
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and punter Johnny HekkerJOHNNY were named to the 2017 NFL Pro Bowl, the team announced today.
Both Donald and Hekker are each making their third trip to the NFL's annual all-star game, which will feature a return to the traditional AFC vs. NFC game format following three years using a revised, "unconferenced" format.
With his invitation, Donald is the first Rams player to earn three consecutive Pro Bowl trips since Torry Holt put together a string of five straight bids from 2003-07. Donald is also the first Rams player on defense to accomplish the feat since cornerback Jerry Gray earned four consecutive bids from 1986-89.
The third-year pro is currently ranked second in the NFL in tackles for loss, recording 56 in 46 games played since entering the league in 2014. He also owns the most sacks by a defensive tackle (27) during that span, and this season boasts a team-best of 7.0 sacks through 15 games.
A steady presence in opponents' backfield, Donald leads the NFL in combined quarterback hurries and knockdowns with 56. Among NFL leaders in quarterback hurries alone, Donald is the only defensive tackle to crack the top five.
This year's Pro Bowl marks Hekker's third trip in four years. He is one of only three Rams punters to ever receive Pro Bowl honors (Dale Hatcher, 1985; Dave Chapple, 1972), and this year's nomination comes on the heels of record-breaking season for the former Oregon State Beaver.
In Los Angeles' Week 14 contest against the Atlanta Falcons, Hekker tied an NFL record for most punts downed inside opponents' 20-yard line (46), which was set by Arizona punter Dave Zastudil. Zastudil took 112 punts to reach the record along with eight touchbacks, while Hekker reached the mark on 79 punting attempts with only one touchback through 15 games.
In Week 9, he kicked a career-long 75-yard punt before besting himself a week later with a 78-yarder, making him the first punter in 20 years to record 75-plus yard punts in back-to-back weeks.
The 2017 NFL Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, January 29, 2017 and televised live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.