Former University of South Florida star Jason Pierre-Paul, who recorded 15 1/2 sacks this season as a defensive end with the New York Giants, was rewarded with his first Pro Bowl selection Tuesday.
Pierre-Paul has started 11 of the Giants' 15 games and has at least a half-sack in 11 games and multiple sacks in five.
His total is the NFL's fourth highest and is the most by a Giants player since Michael Strahan had 18 1/2 in 2003.
"It means a lot," Pierre-Paul said. "I don't really understand the whole Pro Bowl thing, but it means a lot. It means I'm doing good."
Pierre-Paul, the Giants' first-round pick in 2010, played in all 16 games as a rookie, finishing with 41/2 sacks. Injuries to Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck have greatly increased his playing time this season, and he has taken full advantage.
"It gave me a chance to show my coaches that I can perform at a high level, even though they didn't expect me to have a breakout season," Pierre-Paul said. "Just feel the joy right now. I'm having a good feeling even though I knew I could do it all along. I'm happy because everybody sees it now."
Meanwhile, Tom Brady is one of eight Patriots, and Patrick Willis one of eight 49ers to make the Pro Bowl, the most on each roster.
Defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay, led by starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and Baltimore, led by veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, have seven apiece for the Jan. 29 game in Honolulu.
The other New England starters for the AFC team are receiver Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, defensive end Andre Carter, and guards Brian Waters and Logan Mankins.
Linebacker Willis, defensive end Justin Smith, cornerback Carlos Rogers and tackle Joe Staley will start for the NFC from the 49ers.
Green Bay's Rodgers is the starting NFC quarterback, backed by record-setting Drew Brees of New Orleans.
Bears put Cutler, Forte on IR
The Chicago Bears placed quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte on injured reserve, meaning they will miss the season finale at Minnesota this week.
The moves Tuesday were hardly surprising given Chicago's recent struggles. The Bears (7-8) have lost five consecutive since Cutler broke his right thumb late in a win against San Diego on Nov. 20, and things took another bad turn two weeks later when Forte sprained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee against Kansas City.
Cutler, who was scheduled to have surgically inserted pins removed Tuesday, threw for 2,319 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Forte finished with 997 yards rushing and 490 receiving.
Patriots' 1960s star Antwine dead at 72
Houston Antwine, one of the Patriots' top defensive players in their early years, and his wife, Evelyn, have died.
Antwine, 72, died Monday in Memphis, Tenn., of heart failure, and his wife died Tuesday of lung cancer, the team said.
A member of the Patriots' 50th anniversary team, Antwine played from 1961 to 1971 with the franchise before spending the 1972 season with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 142 regular-season games for the Patriots, he had 39 sacks, leading the team in that category in the 1967, 1968, and 1969 seasons, although sacks were not an official statistic then.
BENGALS: Cincinnati placed wide receiver Andre Caldwell on injured reserve with a hernia, ending the former Jefferson High school star's season.
The fourth-year player saw action in 13 games this season with two starts, making 37 catches for 317 yards and three touchdowns.
BILLS: Buffalo promoted rookie offensive lineman Michael Jasper to its 53-man roster after placing tight end Mike Caussin on injured reserve.
49ERS: Struggling wide receiver Braylon Edwards was released following surgery on his right knee earlier this season that limited him.
JAGUARS: Jacksonville signed cornerback Trumaine McBride and promoted defensive end Jammie Kirlew to the active roster from the practice squad.
REDSKINS: Washington released running back Ryan Torain, who started four games this season but fell behind rookies Roy Helu and Evan Royster on the depth chart.
PATRIOTS: New England signed fullback Lousaka Polite, a seven-year NFL veteran.
STEELERS: Coach Mike Tomlin believes injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and center Maurkice Pouncey both have "a shot" to play in Sunday's regular-season finale at Cleveland.