Linval Joseph Selected to First Pro Bowl
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The Minnesota Vikings announced nose tackle Linval Joseph has been selected to the Pro Bowl as a replacement for the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald. This is Joseph’s first selection to the Pro Bowl since entering the league as a second-round pick to the New York Giants in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Joseph was dominant once again in 2016, clogging the interior of Minnesota’s defensive line. Despite constantly battling double and triple teams, Joseph bulled his way into opposing backfields to wreak havoc all season. According to the team’s official website, he finished the year with 100 total tackles, four sacks, seven tackles for loss, and three forced fumbles.

Those impressive stats — specifically,  100 total tackles and four sacks — put Joseph in rare company. He’s just the fifth defensive tackle in Vikings history to compile those numbers and the first to do so since Henry Thomas accomplished the feat in 1991.

Joseph’s three forced fumbles (one of which was returned for a touchdown by Everson Griffen) were a career best and his four sacks were his most in a season since 2012 with the New York Giants. Joseph becomes the fifth Viking and the fourth member of Mike Zimmer’s defense selected to the 2017 Pro Bowl, joining Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Since 2014, when Joseph signed as a free agent with the Vikings, he’s been the key to Mike Zimmer’s defensive success. Without a run-clogging, pass-rushing nose tackle like Joseph, Zimmer’s linebackers can’t flow freely on blitzes, in coverage, or as run defenders. And with Joseph consistently winning battles inside, defensive ends like Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, and Brian Robison have the freedom to attack quarterbacks without abandon.

In his three years under Zimmer, Joseph’s tallied 181 total tackles, 7.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles.Indeed, Linval was hungry this season and should be even hungrier as he makes his first trip to Orlando for the Pro Bowl later this month.