12:43 PM ET
Mike ReissESPN Staff Writer
- Covered Patriots since 1997
- Joined ESPN in 2009
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson, who leads the NFL with six interceptions, was added to the fan ballot for the Pro Bowl on Wednesday after initially being left off.
Fan voting for the Pro Bowl began Tuesday, and Jackson’s absence created a buzz on social media, highlighting the process by which players land on the ballot.
The NFL asks teams to submit 11 players on offense, 11 players on defense and five special-teamers for the ballot. The Patriots, as is their standard procedure over the years, initially submitted their base defense with a front seven and four defensive backs. Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore and veteran Jason McCourty are starters at cornerback, so Jackson wasn’t part of the list the Patriots initially submitted.
But the Patriots reached out to the NFL on Wednesday morning and requested a switch to a nickel defense, removing a linebacker and adding Jackson.
Pro Bowlers are selected based on a combination of fan vote and the voting of coaches and players. The NFL announced Tuesday that this year’s Pro Bowl won’t be played as usual and instead will be virtual in Madden NFL 21.
That doesn’t lessen the value of being selected as a Pro Bowler for some players, such as Jackson, who is in his third NFL season and is scheduled to be a restricted free agent after the season.
After Jackson recorded his sixth interception of the season in Sunday’s 23-17 upset win over the Baltimore Ravens, he drew praise from coach Bill Belichick.
“He has a real good knack for finding the ball,” Belichick said. “He has good hands, quick hands and the ability to locate and catch the ball without seeing it all the way in.”
Said Jackson: “I’m a playmaker, man. I know how to play the ball pretty well. When I go up for the ball, I become the receiver.”