The Tank is going to the Pro Bowl.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence earned his first Pro Bowl selection on Tuesday night, being named a starter on the NFC team.
Lawrence highlighted a group of four Cowboys who earned the nod to the NFL’s all-star game. Also joining Lawrence will be center Travis Frederick, right guard Zack Martin and left tackle Tyron Smith. Martin and Smith were elected starters. Atlanta’s Alex Mack was elected as the starting center.
This year’s Pro Bowl game will be played at 2 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.
“It will be great, just for the recognition,” Lawrence said before the announcement on Tuesday. “Knowing that the fans and coaches and players also see what I’ve been going through and seeing all the plays I’ve been making on the field.”
It’s a well-deserved honor for Lawrence who is in the midst of a career year.
Lawrence ranks third in the NFL in sacks with 13.5, a career-high and the most for a Cowboys player since DeMarcus Ware had 19.5 in 2011. Lawrence has also been credited with 45 quarterback pressures by the coaching breakdown.
The second most on the Cowboys? Tyrone Crawford with 25.
Lawrence has been at the top of the league in sacks for much of the season but has been passed by Arizona’s Chandler Jones (15) and Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell (14.5) in recent weeks.
On top of being one of the top pass rushers in the game, Lawrence prides himself in being an all-around player. He’s been effective in the running game with 41 tackles, including six for loss.
“I take a lot of pride in it. This is not a one-dimensional system,” Lawrence said. “Y’all should know, playing for [defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli] is that you have to be able to do everything in all areas. You have to set the edge for the defense, make it easier so your linebackers don’t have to run all the way across the field.
“And also rush the passer. I feel like it’s being poised to do everything the right way in order to win games.”
Lawrence, 25, reiterated that being healthy has allowed him to have this productive of a season. He’s undergone back surgeries the past two off-seasons and had just one sack in nine games last season.
“After my first game, after my first sack, I felt like, ‘OK, I’ve got my legs back now and I can kind of roll,’ ” Lawrence said. “And I’ve been feeling good ever since then.”
Martin, Frederick and Smith each led their respective positions in fan votes. The roster is determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining who makes the rosters.
For Martin, it marks his fourth Pro Bowl bid. He’s made it every season he’s been in the league, and is having another standout season. Martin has given up just one sack and has not been flagged this season.
For Frederick, it also marks his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl. The highest-paid center in the league is playing up to that label – he’s not given up a sack and has been flagged just twice.
For Smith, it’s his fifth consecutive trip. He’s missed two games with a groin injury and could miss this Sunday’s game vs. Seattle with a right knee injury. He’s also been flagged for holding a career-high five times, but remains one of the top tackles in the game.
With four players earning berths this season, the Cowboys have now had at least four Pro Bowlers for four consecutive seasons.
They were tied for the most representatives last season with seven (Smith, Martin, Frederick, running back Ezekiel Elliott, quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Dez Bryant and linebacker Sean Lee).
The biggest snub from the Cowboys? That might belong to punter Chris Jones.
Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker is going for the fourth time and is widely considered the top punter in the game. But Jones should be in the conversation.
Jones’ net average is 41.7 yards, fifth-best in the NFC. But he is tied with San Francisco’s Bradley Pinion in the NFC for most punts inside the 20 (29). He’s also had the fewest punt return yards against him (55) in the entire league.
On a local note, Pittsburgh kicker Chris Boswell is going to his first Pro Bowl. Boswell is a product of Keller Fossil Ridge and went on to kick in college at Rice.