EAGAN, Minn. – A pair of Vikings teammates has been named to the 2024 NFL Pro Bowl Games.
Outside linebacker Danielle Hunter and long snapper Andrew DePaola are on this season's initial all-star roster, the league announced Wednesday.
"It means a lot," Hunter said. "It just tells me that everybody respects my game, and my peers and my coaches, the fans, they see the work that I put in. It's ultimately one of my goals to always try to make the Pro Bowl if I can and always help my team in any way possible."
Through the first 16 games of the 2023 season, Hunter has racked up 15.5 sacks, surpassing his single-season career high of 14.5 that he set in 2018 and matched in 2019. He will have one more opportunity Sunday to add to that total in Detroit, against whom he's recorded 12 of his 86.5 career sacks.
Hunter has forced four fumbles this season, setting a career single-season high, and his 21 tackles for loss are tied with Las Vegas' Maxx Crosby for the lead league. Should he record any TFLs against the Lions this weekend, he will set a new season high for himself.
Hunter has a career-high 77 total tackles entering Minnesota's regular-season finale.
The selection marks Hunter's fourth career Pro Bowl. He also was named to the all-star roster following the 2018, 2019 and 2022 campaigns.
Vikings OLB Danielle Hunter, LS Andrew DePaola and FB C.J. Ham are representing the Vikings at the 2024 Pro Bowl Games.
DePaola, meanwhile, is headed to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after earning a nod last season. He finished second among NFC long snappers in fan voting.
"It's amazing, just to know the fans are fully behind you. It's great that they embrace you – especially here. Vikings fans are so passionate," DePaola said. "And then to also be respected by your peers and opposing coaches, to be voted in again, it's truly not something I take for granted."
The long snapper is looking forward to once again representing the Vikings alongside Hunter.
"I'll be honest – last year my head was spinning a little bit. First time, didn't know what was going on, was trying to take everything in. Hopefully this year I play it a little more cool," DePaola laughed. "Danielle, going to No. 4, he always seems like such a cool customer, so hopefully I can just follow his lead."
Most recently, DePaola executed a picture-perfect snap against the Lions, enabling Greg Joseph to smoothly knock through a 54-yard field goal. He has been instrumental in special teams plays throughout the season, including making a direct snap to running back Ty Chandler on a successful fake punt against the Broncos Week 11.
DePaola is well-respected by his teammates, coaches and peers alike and is recognized as a leader within the Vikings locker room.
"The snaps are perfect, I would say. 'Perfect All-Pro Po,' " Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Matt Daniels recently said of DePaola, referencing the First-Team All-Pro honors he received last spring. "I don't think there's a doubt he should end up being a back-to-back All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.
"I think the biggest thing that might go unheard or unseen is how much he pours into the young guys. You know, dealing with a young core group of special teams players, those player-led meetings they have every single Saturday morning, are led by [DePaola]," Daniels continued. "His ability to communicate, not only in just the punt phase but in all six phases, and for me to be able to trust and rely on him as a player [who can] communicate what we want to do on each and every phase only shows how much accountability, how much responsibility he holds himself to … and to basically be a secondary coach for me."
In addition to DePaola and Hunter, six other Vikings were listed as alternates for the all-star week:
1st Alternate: C.J. Ham, Fullbacks
1st Alternate: T.J. Hockenson, Tight Ends*
2nd Alternate: Josh Metellus, Safeties
3rd Alternate: Garrett Bradbury, Centers
4th Alternate: Christian Darrisaw, Tackles
4th Alternate: Harrison Smith, Safeties
*Note: Hockenson suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Lions Week 16 and is unable to participate.
Pro Bowl selections are determined by a voting process that weighs the votes of fans (one-third), coaches (one-third) and players (one-third).
The NFC and AFC teams, coached again by Eli and Peyton Manning, will face off in the 2024 Pro Bowl Games presented by Verizon on Sunday, Feb. 4, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. The game will be televised by ESPN.
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