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Five Browns players selected to 2014 Pro Bowl

By Nate Ulrich Published: December 27, 2013

The Browns have more Pro Bowlers than wins heading into their season finale Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The NFL announced tonight that the following five players were selected to represent the 4-11 Browns in the Pro Bowl: Wide receiver Josh Gordon, cornerback Joe Haden, tight end Jordan Cameron, center Alex Mack and left offensive tackle Joe Thomas.

The Pro Bowl will be played at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 in Honolulu.

Gordon, Haden and Cameron are first-time honorees. Mack will make his second appearance in the Pro Bowl after receiving the nod as an injury replacement following the 2010 season. Thomas has earned his seventh trip in each of his seven NFL seasons.

It’s the most Pro Bowlers the Browns have had since six players were selected at the end of the 2007 season, when the team went 10-6 with coach Rob Chudzinski serving as the offensive coordinator. The offense boasts four of the five players with Haden being the only defender selected. The Browns also lead the AFC North in Pro Bowl selections this season.

Perhaps the high number of all-stars is a sign that the Browns aren’t as far away from a turnaround as most outsiders think. The Kansas City Chiefs had six Pro Bowlers last season when they went 2-14. They’re now 11-4 with a playoff berth clinched. Browns fans have been dreaming of such a scenario since the expansion era began in 1999.

“It’s kind of special,” Thomas said today. “I kind of see what happened with Kansas City last year where they’ve been building talent through the draft. They finally started getting recognition one year before they put those wins together. All we have to do is add a piece here and there and we could be sitting where Kansas City is.”

Added Mack: “We’ve had a pretty good offensive season. Offensively, we’ve done a good job, and people have individually played really well. Unfortunately, we haven’t had quite the success that we want, but it is coming.”

The most important piece of the puzzle is obviously a quarterback, and the Browns must find a long-term solution at that position to achieve the sustained success the new regime constantly talks about. But at least there are some other valuable parts in place.

Gordon, 22, might be the most dynamic of them all. Despite being suspended the first two games this season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy and playing with three quarterbacks, Gordon leads the league in receiving yards (a franchise-record 1,564), receiving yards per game (120.3) and yards per catch (19.6). He also has a team-high 80 catches and nine touchdowns. On Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, he became the only player in NFL history to top 200 receiving yards in consecutive games. Gordon joins Braylon Edwards (2008) and Webster Slaughter (1990) as the only Browns wide receivers selected to the Pro Bowl since 1971.

Haden, 24, wanted to redeem himself after missing four games last season because he violated the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He rebounded this season by becoming the first Browns cornerback selected to the Pro Bowl since Frank Minnifield in 1990. Haden, who has covered the opposing No. 1 receiver throughout this season, is tied for the team lead with four interceptions, and according to STATS LLC, his 20 passes defensed are tied for second in the NFL.

Cameron, 25, has 75 catches and ranks second among NFL tight ends in receptions (75) and receiving yards (848). He joins Milt Morin (1969, 1972), Ozzie Newsome (1982, 1985-86) and Kellen Winslow Jr. (2008) as the only Browns tight ends selected to the Pro Bowl.

Mack, 28, has started all 79 games in his five-year career and has not missed an offensive snap, a streak of 4,934 consecutive plays. He joins John Morrow (1962, 1964) and Tom DeLeone (1980, 1981) as the only Browns centers to make multiple Pro Bowl trips.

“I was pretty fired up,” Mack said about being selected again. “I was really excited. It’s a great honor. You put a lot of work into this sport, and it’s good to get recognized.”

Mack and strong safety T.J. Ward are the most notable Browns players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents March 11. Ward was selected a Pro Bowl alternate.

With seven Pro Bowls on his resume, Thomas trails only Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Lou Groza, both of whom had nine, for the most by a Browns player. Thomas has started all 111 career games at tackle without missing an offensive snap. His 6,859 consecutive offensive snaps is the longest active streak in the league.  

Thomas, 29, joins Jim Brown (1958-66) as the only Browns players selected to the Pro Bowl in each of their first seven seasons. Thomas also joins Richmond Webb (Miami Dolphins, 1991-97) as the only NFL offensive linemen to be named to the Pro Bowl in each of their first seven seasons since 1970.

Thomas and Mack will appear in their second Pro Bowl together, marking the first time a pair of Browns offensive linemen have participated in multiple all-star games since Hall of Fame guard Gene Hickerson and tackle Dick Schafrath accomplished the feat in four consecutive years (1966-69).

“It’s a great honor,” Mack said. “Offensive line is a team position. You really depend heavily on the people next to you, and it’s a cohesive unit. I owe a lot to my coaches and my teammates.”

Fans, coaches and players selected the participants for the Pro Bowl, which will use a new format in 2014. Instead of the AFC playing the NFC, all of the players selected will be drafted from a pool at 8 p.m. Jan. 22 with Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders serving as alumni team captains.

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