The Cardinals have had one of the best teams in the NFL all season, so it made sense they were going to get their share of players elected to the Pro Bowl.
But perhaps no one has a better story in getting there than running back James Conner, who was one of four Cardinals selected, it was announced Wednesday.
Safety Budda Baker and outside linebacker Chandler Jones were picked as starters. Quarterback Kyler Murray and Conner were selected as reserves.
The first three aren't a surprise as Pro Bowl veterans. Baker was an All-Pro a season ago, Murray made the Pro Bowl last year and again was in the thick of the MVP talk much of this season. Jones returned from injury and has 9½ sacks.
But few expected Conner to be so important to one of the best teams in the league after the Steelers let him walk as a free agent. Conner has 16 touchdowns this season, and his 14 rushing is second in the NFL. He also became the workhorse of the backfield after Chase Edmonds missed five games with an ankle injury.
On the season, Conner has 700 yards rushing and another 334 yards receiving on 31 receptions. This is his second Pro Bowl.
Baker is headed to his fourth Pro Bowl in four seasons, the fourth Cardinal to make that many in his first five seasons – along with Patrick Peterson (5-5), Ollie Matson (5-5) and Ron Wolfley (4-5). Baker has 79 tackles, three interceptions, three tackles for loss, four passes defensed and a fumble recovery.
Jones earned his fourth career Pro Bowl spot and third in Arizona, tying Dale Meinert for the most Pro Bowls for a Cardinals linebacker. His sack total included five in the opener, and he has 70½ since arriving in Arizona, the most in franchise history. He twice won NFC Defensive Player of the Week this season.
Murray made his second straight Pro Bowl, joining only Jim Hart (4) and Neil Lomax (2) to have multiple Pro Bowl selections as a Cardinals QB. Murray is second in the NFL in completion percentage (69.8) and passing yards per attempt (8.42). He is tied with Kurt Warner for most games in a season with at least a 120.0 passer rating (five).
The Cardinals also had a host of alternates: tight end Zach Ertz, linebacker Markus Golden, guard Max Garcia, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, center Rodney Hudson, tackle D.J. Humphries, punter Andy Lee, cornerback Byron Murphy Jr., and kicker Matt Prater.
The Pro Bowl is at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Feb. 6.