After leading the NFL in average yards per catch, Vincent Jackson has latched onto an NFC Pro Bowl invitation.
Signed as an unrestricted free agent from San Diego in March, the 30-year-old wide receiver was added to the NFC squad Tuesday, giving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a second representative at this month’s Pro Bowl.
Following the withdrawal of Detroit’s Calvin Johnson due to injury, Jackson will join Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy for the all-star game Jan. 27 in Honolulu.
Jackson, named a first alternate, will be making his third Pro Bowl appearance. He set career highs with 72 catches for 1,384 yards, topping the league with an average of 19.2 yards per reception.
"It’s always humbling to be selected to the Pro Bowl, and I would not have been able to achieve this without the help of my coaches, teammates, and the Buccaneers staff," Jackson said in a statement issued by the team.
"With all of the hard work we put in during the offseason and regular season, for it to be recognized by not only the fans, but also your peers in the league, is simply an incredible honor. I truly appreciate the support and am thrilled to share this amazing experience with the entire Buccaneer Nation."
Jackson posted five 100-yard games and scored eight touchdowns as Tampa Bay’s offense finished No. 9 in the league, the highest ranking in franchise history. He is the first Buc receiver to make the Pro Bowl since Keenan McCardell in 2003.
Of Jackson’s 72 catches, 61 generated a first down for the Bucs.
Johnson, who broke Jerry Rice’s single-season NFL mark with 1,964 receiving yards, pulled out of the Pro Bowl because of nagging leg problems.
Another Tampa Bay player, rookie running back Doug Martin, also could find his way to Hawaii. Martin is a first alternate, meaning he could replace Frank Gore if the San Francisco 49ers advance to the Super Bowl, scheduled for the following Sunday.
Free safety Ronde Barber was named a second alternate for the NFC.