The lone bright spot on an awful Bears defense gained a little more luster Monday when cornerback Tim Jennings was added to Sunday's Pro Bowl to replace the Seahawks' Richard Sherman, who will be otherwise occupied preparing for Super Bowl XLVIII the following weekend.
Bears rookie guard Kyle Long was also added, replacing 49ers guard Mike Iupati, who was injured in Sunday's NFC championship game. Despite starting just five Division-I level games at Oregon, Long was the Bears' first-round pick (20th overall) in 2013, and he started all 16 games.
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It will be the second straight Pro Bowl for Jennings, whose individual performance was not reflected in a Bears defense that allowed 30 points per game and the highest average gain per rush in the NFL in 50 years. Jennings led the Bears with 4 interceptions, 2 of which he returned for touchdowns, and he tied for the team lead with 3 forced fumbles, while making 69 tackles and breaking up 13 passes.
After the Bears' other Pro Bowl cornerback, Charles Tillman, was injured, Jennings was instrumental in containing some of the league's top wide receivers in three straight weeks late in the season. He held the Cowboys' Dez Bryant to 2 catches for 12 yards, the Browns' Josh Gordon to 3 catches for 67 yards and the Eagles' DeSean Jackson to 4 catches for 29 yards.
Jennings was voted to last year's Pro Bowl after leading the NFL with 9 interceptions. His 13 interceptions over the last two seasons are second only to Sherman's 16.
Long was part of an offensive line that allowed just 30 sacks, the fourth fewest in the NFL, and 14 fewer than a year earlier, even though the 2013 group featured four new starters. The offense that set franchise records for total yards (6,109), passing yards (4,281), passer rating (96.9), completion percentage (64.4), total first downs (344) and passing first downs (215), and was second in team history with 445 points.
Jennings and Long join three teammates in Hawaii, running back Matt Forté and wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who were voted in, and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who was added as a replacement for injured Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
The four offensive Pro Bowlers are the team's most since the 1985 Super Bowl winners were represented by running back Walter Payton, tackle Jim Covert, center Jay Hilgenberg and quarterback Jim McMahon.
Long is the first Bears offensive lineman to reach the Pro Bowl since guard Ruben Brown and center Olin Kreutz were selected following the 2006 season. He is the first Bears rookie to make the Pro Bowl as a non-specialist since linebacker Brian Urlacher following the 2000 season.