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Fans tap Whit, Geno in Pro Bowl balloting; Dozen Bengals finish in top ten


No. 77, Andrew Whitworth, led all NFL tackles in Pro Bowl fan balloting.

The 10-3 Bengals bid for a top seed in the AFC playoffs translated to the ballot box in Pro Bowl fan balloting, where two players got the most votes at their position and a dozen placed in at least the top ten in results released Thursday.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, with 175,639 votes, and defensive tackle Geno Atkins, with 289,684, led their positions and quarterback Andy Dalton got the most votes of any Bengal with 525,638 when he finished third overall in voting on behind Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (701,584) and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, with 701,086.

That's only one-third of the process to select the players that go to Hawaii for the Jan. 31 Pro Bowl in Honolulu. The coaches and players also vote and the final list is announced Tuesday at 8 p.m. on NFL Network.

Grateful for the late shower of votes that pulled him out of sixth place about a month ago (he tipped his hat to wife Melissa's marshaling of Significant Others to push the Bengals' cause), Whitworth isn't counting his chickens. Even though he's been one of the NFL's best pas-protecting tackles since 2009, he's been named to just one Pro Bowl.

"I don't count on any of that. I can assure you that," Whitworth said of the remaining ballots. "That's a hard system to fix. I can tell you the guys that will be in there even before they played their seasons this year. It's just reality."

Atkins is aiming for his fourth straight Pro Bowl nod and wide receiver A.J. Green is looking to go to five straight. He finished sixth in voting among receivers with 316,556, behind Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald and more than 52,000 votes behind fifth-place DeAndre Hopkins.

Cincinnati Bengals host practice at Paul Brown Stadium practice fields 12/17/2015

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, tied for the NFL scoring lead with 12 TDs, angled for his first trip when he finished third behind New England's Rob Gronkowski and Carolina's Greg Olsen.  Their two guards both finished in the top ten, with right guard Kevin Zeitler finishing fourth and left guard Clint Boling eighth.

With eight receivers, six guards, and four tight ends selected, the Bengals would appear to be able to get more Pro Bowlers besides Dalton, aiming for his third selection. Four free safeties make it and Reggie Nelson, the NFL interception leader, finished fifth with the coaches and players ballots pending. Bengals sack leader Carlos Dunlap finished sixth at a defensive end position that takes six.

Center Russell Bodine finished ninth and special teamers Adam Jones, for returners, and Cedric Peerman, for coverage, each finished 10th.

"We said it before the year. We felt like there was a new energy and a new passion not just from our team, but the fan base,' Whitworth said after Thursday's practice. "To see a lot of different guys on that list, you see some of that. Andy 's success helped me and Andy's success helped Zeitler . . . I think people see how many games we've won the last four, five years and go the playoffs often, it keeps building."

Next week the Bengals play on ESPN's Monday Night Football in Denver, their franchise-tying fourth appearance on prime time this year.

"Every time you play on Monday night, Sunday night, you're building a bigger fan base," Whitworth said.  "When you're one of those teams that always seems to get those prime-time games, it seems like those are the only players everybody in the league knows. I think we've had more chances to be recognized."

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