Houston Texans J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins Named To 2016 Pro Bowl Team

Two bright spots on a team full of under-performance
Two bright spots on a team full of under-performance
Marco Torres (left)/Eric Sauseda

From about the midpoint of the season, even as the Houston Texans were limping to a hideous 2-5 start, there was one huge lock that, if you could wager on it, you'd have made a ton of money — J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins were going to be named to the Pro Bowl. The two were virtually the only bright spots on a team full of under-performance.

Fortunately, the rest of the team came around (to varying degrees) and they were able to pull out of their 2-5 nosedive, and now lead the AFC South with a 7-7 record, and sure enough, the team's success during the months of November and December has been punctuated with the announcement that Watt and Hopkins indeed have been named to the 2016 Pro Bowl, which will be played in Honolulu on January 31. This marks the 12th consecutive season that the Texans have placed a player in the game, and perhaps appropriately, they're the only AFC South team to place a player in the game this season.

For Hopkins, this will be his first trip to the Pro Bowl in a season where he has emerged as one of the premier receivers in the league. Currently, he is ranked fourth in the NFL in both receiving yards (1,315) and receptions (97), and with 10 touchdown receptions, he is the first Texans receiver to achieve double digits in that category in franchise history. Amazingly, he's piled up these numbers with three different starting quarterbacks, and perhaps a fourth if Brandon Weeden starts either of the final two games. 

Hopkins became the third-youngest player in NFL history to reach 200 career receptions and 3,000 career receiving yards, behind only Larry Fitzgerald (23 years, 108 days) and David Boston (23 years, 126 days). He also became the first player in NFL history with at least nine catches and 145 receiving yards in three consecutive games, in Weeks 4 through 6. The measuring stick for receivers in Houston will always be Andre Johnson, and earlier this season, Hopkins passed Andre Johnson for the most receptions (225) and receiving yards (3,327) for a player in his first three seasons in team history. 

While Hopkins is making his first appearance in the Pro Bowl, Watt continues his annual formality of achieving this honor, making his fourth-straight Pro Bowl appearance following another dominant season at defensive end for the Texans. Watt's individual seasons of greatness are beginning to place him in career defining strata as this year he passed Derrick Thomas (66.0) for the second-most career sacks in a player’s first five seasons in NFL history and became the second-fastest player in NFL history to reach 70.0 sacks (Reggie White, 57 games).

Watt has continued to stuff the stat sheet at a position, defensive end in a 3-4 defense, that has never been conducive to doing so — 66 tackles, 13.5 sacks for 87.5 yards, 25 tackles for loss, 44 quarterback hits, five passes defensed and one forced fumble. He is currently the league leader in quarterback hits, tackles for loss and is tied for second in the league in sacks. For his career, Watt has 70.5 sacks, 203 quarterback hits, 128 tackles for loss, 11 fumble recoveries, 13 forced fumbles, and 42 passes defensed.

Texans left tackle Duane Brown was named an alternate to the game, so if any of the six tackles named are unable to attend due to injury or his team making the Super Bowl, Brown could attend as the third Houston Texan.

Here is the historical list of Houston Texans named to the Pro Bowl:

Player                        Pos  Season  Career Selections
DeAndre Hopkins      WR    2015           First
J.J. Watt                     DE    2015           Fourth
Arian Foster               RB    2014           Fourth
J.J. Watt                     RB    2014           Third
Andre Johnson          WR    2013          Seventh
J.J. Watt                     DE    2013           Second
Duane Brown              T      2012           First
Arian Foster               RB    2012           Third
Andre Johnson          WR    2012           Sixth
Johnathan Joseph     CB     2012          Second
Chris Myers                C      2012           Second
Matt Schaub              QB    2012           Second
Wade Smith                G     2012            First
J.J. Watt                     DE    2012           First
Arian Foster               RB    2011           Second
Johnathan Joseph     CB    2011            First
Chris Myers                C      2011            First
Antonio Smith            DE    2011            First
Arian Foster               RB    2010           First
Andre Johnson          WR   2010            Fifth
Vonta Leach              FB     2010           First
Matt Schaub             QB     2009           First
Brian Cushing           LB     2009            First
Andre Johnson         WR    2009           Fourth
DeMeco Ryans         LB     2009          Second
Mario Williams          DE     2009          Second
Owen Daniels           TE     2008            First
Andre Johnson        WR    2008            Third
Mario Williams          DE    2008            First
DeMeco Ryans         LB     2007            First
Andre Johnson         WR    2007          Second
Jerome Mathis          WR    2005           First
Andre Johnson         WR    2004           First
Aaron Glenn             CB     2002          Third
Gary Walker              DE    2002          Second

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.                

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