Three players who have done their part to help to keep the Buffalo Bills' playoff hopes alive — strong safety Micah Hyde, running back LeSean McCoy and guard Richie Incognito — have been selected to the AFC squad for the 2018 Pro Bowl, the NFL announced Tuesday night.
Hyde is a first-time selection to the league's annual all-star game, which is scheduled for Jan. 28 in Orlando, Fla. McCoy has been chosen for the sixth time in his nine NFL seasons and Incognito for the fourth in his 11 years in the league. All three were picked as backups.
This is McCoy's fifth Pro Bowl selection in a row and third since joining the Bills in 2015 in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. It is Incognito's third Pro Bowl since joining the Bills as a free agent in '15, but the first time in his career he made it as an outright pick in voting by fans, coaches and players.
Four Bills players were chosen as Pro Bowl alternates: center Eric Wood (first), defensive tackle Kyle Williams (second), and tight end Charles Clay and fullback Mike Tolbert (third).
Hyde, who received the most fan votes for his position, is tied for fifth in the league with five interceptions in 14 games. He also has 69 tackles, including 57 initial hits.
Still, Hyde, a fifth-year pro, never envisioned reaching the Pro Bowl when he signed with the Bills as a free agent from the Green Bay Packers on March 9.
"As far as a Pro Bowl season, no," Hyde said by phone. "That's something I honestly didn't even think about. I just wanted to come in and help this team any way I can. I just wanted the opportunity. And once I got that opportunity, I just wanted to help the guys in the locker room, on and off the field.
"I never really think about the personal accolades, I guess. Now, obviously, I have some goals for myself, but as far as making it to the Pro Bowl my first year in Buffalo? That was kind of something I didn't even think about."
Hyde said it was "very humbling" to realize the amount of respect he has around the league.
During his four seasons with the Packers, he was mainly known for his versatility, plugging in at different positions in the secondary and as a punt returner. Given the chance to play one position with the Bills, Hyde was better able to show the rest of the NFL the level of his skills.
"I did a lot of things in Green Bay to help out the football team, but at the same time, maybe that might have hurt my own personal (accomplishments) and stats or whatever it may have done," Hyde said. "But once I got here, I got to work along side somebody like (free safety) Jordan Poyer. We came here together, we came into the NFL together in 2013, and we looked at each other and said, 'Look, man, we've been overlooked ... this is our opportunity.'
"And I wish somebody like Jordan Poyer was able to be right beside me (in the Pro Bowl), because he's played just as good as I have this season. Just playing along side has made us both better, so this is definitely a big shout-out to him."
McCoy ranks third in the AFC and fifth in the NFL with 1,057 rushing yards. He also has rushed for six touchdowns, and leads the Bills with 52 receptions for 350 yards and two TDs.
Incognito called his Pro Bowl selection a "special experience," especially given how far he has come since his 2013 bullying scandal with the Miami Dolphins that kept him out of football until he joined the Bills two seasons ago.
"I'm just humbled by the whole journey," Incognito said by phone. "It was an incredible journey that I'm still on, just working to be a better person each and every day. From 2013 in Miami and the bullying incident, to 2017, getting (selected) for the Pro Bowl ... just so much hard work, so many good people in my life helped guide me and helped make me not only a better person, but a better football player. So many thanks go out to family, friends, people who I've worked with to get here."
If things work out the way the Bills hope they do, none of the Bills' three Pro Bowlers will actually play in the game and, instead, will be busy preparing to play in Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.
For now, just receiving the recognition is a nice bonus while hoping to have the chance to pursue a much larger prize for the team.
"The 2017 Bills have exceeded everyone's expectation, even my own," Incognito said. "To be at this point in the season, 8-6 and fighting for a playoff chance with two games left in the season, I don't think that anybody would have predicted that back in August. This whole team is just about grit and overcoming and loving one another.
"I'm happy to be a part of it. I'm proud to represent this organization in the Pro Bowl this year."
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Grand Island's Brett Kern, of the Tennessee Titans, was selected as the AFC's punter. He received the most fan votes for his position.