ENGLEWOOD, Colo. >> Broncos running back C.J. Anderson has been added to the Pro Bowl roster in place of injured Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell.
His addition gives the Broncos a franchise-record 11 Pro Bowlers, most in the NFL this season.
Quarterback Peyton Manning, however, pulled out of the league’s annual all-star game over the weekend because a strained right thigh hasn’t improved since Denver’s elimination from the playoffs.
The 11 Broncos selected to the Pro Bowl bests the previous high of 10 in 1998, when John Elway was wrapping up his Hall of Fame playing career.
As Denver’s general manager and executive vice president, Elway has either drafted or signed in free agency nine of the 11 Broncos who made roster for the game, which will be played Sunday in Glendale, Arizona.
Also on Monday, Bears tight end Martellus Bennett and Browns safety Donte Whitner were selected as replacements for New England’s Rob Gronkowski and Seattle’s Earl Thomas, with the Patriots and Seahawks headed to the Super Bowl.
And two Packers, wide receiver Randall Cobb and cornerback Sam Shields, were added to the Pro Bowl roster a day after Green Bay’s loss to Seattle in the NFC championship game.
Cobb replaces injured Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant and Shields replaces Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis.
This is the first trip to the Pro Bowl for both Cobb and Shields.
Anderson didn’t even start until midseason but once he filled in for injured backs Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, he gave the Broncos a dynamic new dimension on offense.
The second-year undrafted pro from Cal led all NFL players with 709 yards from scrimmage in November and tied for the league lead with seven touchdowns in December.
When he was selected as an alternate last month, he said, “That is just amazing. It’s just the beginning. Of course, I want to make the Pro Bowl one day.”
Anderson got that chance because of Bell’s injury. He got hurt in Pittsburgh’s regular season finale on a legal but low hit from Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson and didn’t play in the Steelers’ loss to Baltimore in the playoffs.
Bennett’s selection is the first for him and the first by a Bears tight end since Hall of Famer Mike Ditka earned one for the 1965 season. He led NFL tight ends with a club-record 90 receptions and was third at the position with 916 yards receiving.
Whitner, headed to his third straight Pro Bowl, had 106 tackles in his first season with the Browns. A Cleveland native, he signed with them after spending his first eight seasons with Buffalo and San Francisco.