Bears outside linebacker Robert Quinn’s comeback season earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. And punt returner Jakeem Grant’s resurgence after a midseason trade got him there, too.
The NFL announced some Pro Bowl selections Monday, and Quinn and Grant, chosen as starters, were the only picks from the Bears. The rest of the Pro Bowl selections will be announced Wednesday.
Quinn made the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2014, and his season has been one of the Bears’ few feel-good stories. After a miserable first season with the team — athletically and emotionally — he got his 15th and 16th sacks in the first half Monday and moved into second in the NFL behind T.J. Watt.
“Just trying to redeem myself,” Quinn said this month. “That was a disappointing season [in 2020]. And this year, I just try not to let the unnecessary weight or negativity weigh me down — or keep it off my plate.
“This year, I’m just able to have fun, been able to bond with the guys more, so it turned into a brotherhood. That alone allows you to play more comfortably and fast and make plays.”
Quinn had two sacks in 548 snaps in his first season of a five-year, $70 million deal with the Bears. His sack numbers this season are the second-highest of his career, surpassed only by the 19 he had as an All-Pro in 2013.
Grant could’ve been staring down the end of his career when the Dolphins bailed on him and sent him to the Bears for a sixth-round pick in October. Instead, he became a vital special-teamer and emerged as part of the Bears’ offense.
Grant had a 97-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Packers, making him the only player in the NFL to run one back for a score this season. He also averaged 24.4 yards per kick return and has 155 yards and two TDs on offense.
He exited in the second quarter and was ruled out with a concussion.
Linebacker Roquan Smith’s omission was the Bears’ biggest snub. He was sixth in the NFL with 130 tackles going into the game and had three sacks and a pick-six.
Smith still could get in as an alternate. The league will announce those when the rest of the selections are revealed Wednesday.