This year's edition of the NFL's all-star weekend features a number of new faces on both the NFC and AFC rosters, including a collection of very talented rookies who were added to the mix as replacements for previously selected players who were either injured or unable to play because of next weekend's Super Bowl.
Originally, the lone non-specialist rookie who was named to the Pro Bowl was Washington's Robert Griffin III, but due to his season-ending knee injury, he was among those who were forced to bow out.
For a look at both the AFC and NFC rosters for the Pro Bowl, check out NFL.com.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that Doug Martin, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Matt Kalil were all named as replacements. In many ways, 2012 was, at least offensively, the year of the rookie.
Each of those four players became difference-makers immediately and gradually were counted upon as leaders of their respective teams.
It's not unusual for two talented rookie running backs to emerge, and though Martin and All-Pro back Alfred Morris put up remarkable numbers, the real story was and always will be the rookie quarterbacks who took the league by storm.
We all knew that Griffin and Luck would immediately become NFL stars, but how many people predicted both men would lead their teams from being among the league's worst to postseason appearances in one season?
Beyond them, 2012 featured no fewer than six other rookie quarterbacks who were given the opportunity to start for their respective teams—Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins and Ryan Lindley—plus a second-year QB with his first taste of real action.
And two of them led their teams to unexpectedly great heights. Wilson took the Seattle Seahawks to within a hair of the NFC Championship Game, while Colin Kaepernick, a San Francisco 2011 second-round pick initially in relief of Alex Smith, seized the starting job and took the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
Fittingly, the Pro Bowl rosters are representative of the impact that rookies have made on the league this season and show how special this class of first-year players really was.
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