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Bill Belichick proud of Patriots’ representation in Pro Bowl

Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater was named to his fifth Pro Bowl, although he trails his father, Jackie, by two.Robert E. Klein for the Globe/Globe Freelance

FOXBOROUGH — Bill Belichick never has been big on individual accolades. He values team goals first, foremost, and almost exclusively.

But the Patriots coach was pretty pleased that seven of his players were named to the Pro Bowl Tuesday night — not that he has any interest in seeing any of them in Honolulu.

Quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, cornerback Malcolm Butler, linebacker Jamie Collins, defensive end Chandler Jones, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, and special teams captain Matthew Slater all earned spots in the NFL's annual all-star game.

"I'm proud of the fact that all seven of those players are homegrown — they all came in as Patriots, spent their whole career as Patriots, developed as Patriots one way or another, but that's what they all are,'' Belichick said. "I think there is something to be said for that."


All of the players were drafted by New England except for Butler, who was brought in as an undrafted free agent last season.

Belichick also was impressed by the breakdown of New England's selections.

"I think the representation speaks a little bit to the balance of the team," he said, "with Slater and Gostkowski in the kicking game, Rob and Tom on offense, and Chandler and Jamie and Malcolm on defense. That's good.''

There also was a bit of history, too, always a favorite subject of the Patriots boss.

"Slater, five Pro Bowls, father had five Pro Bowls — that's pretty special,'' he said, referring to legendary Rams offensive tackle Jackie Slater. "Nobody else had done that. The Matthews clan is still going. I had Clay [Jr.], but that's as an aside, kind of a special thing.''

Slater pointed out that his father "has two more than me, he had seven'' but they share similar philosophies about their chosen profession.


"My dad and I are just really humbled by our whole experience in the NFL," said Slater. "We both feel like the good Lord has really blessed us with some great experiences, great teammates and great friendships.

"It's humbling when your hard work gets acknowledged. You know you put so much into this and at the end of the day, the team, and what we have going here as the New England Patriots, is always paramount to me, and that's what I care about most.''

Reminded that all the selections have been Patriots their whole careers, Slater seemed a little surprised, "Wow. That's pretty significant.''

Gostkowski said although he appreciates "being selected by your peers and the coaches and stuff like that, it's really a testament to being on a good team, a winning team. When stuff like this happens, it's good to celebrate with the whole team, and you know, [holder/punter] Ryan [Allen] and [long snapper] Joe [Cardona] and the guys who block for me.

"The fact that the guys on the team were as excited as I was is exciting for me. When you win, good things happen.''

Butler, one of three first-time Pro Bowlers along with Collins and Jones, said it was "a great honor'' to be part of such a select group.

"There's a lot of players in this league that deserve to be on there,'' Butler said. "A lot of players in this locker room that deserve to be honored. But it's a blessing to have that opportunity — and cherish the moment and just keep moving forward.''


Gronkowski absent

Gronkowski was absent from Wednesday's shells-and-sweats practice, though it was not an injury-related absence.

There was no official word, though Gronkowski presumably was in Rhode Island attending the funeral of his friend, Dana Parenteau, who died last week. Gronkowski dedicated Sunday's victory to Parenteau.

Also missing from practice were linebacker Jonathan Freeny, who continues to recover from the dislocated hand he suffered in Houston, and practice squad defensive back Brock Vereen.

Receiver Julian Edelman returned to practice after missing Tuesday's walkthrough. Edelman has been out since suffering a broken foot against the Giants Nov. 15. He was listed as limited.

Others listed as limited included safeties Devin McCourty (ankle), Patrick Chung (hip) and Nate Ebner (ankle); receivers Danny Amendola (knee) and Brandon LaFell (foot); linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee); tight end Scott Chandler (knee); and guard Josh Kline (shoulder).

LaFell and Ebner are new additions to the list.

Jones (abdomen) and cornerback Justin Coleman (hand) were full participants.

Season’s greetings

Some pressing Christmas matters were on the agenda at Gillette Stadium. Belichick, asked if he'd be OK with some NFL officials and their lawyers ending up on the naughty list, quipped, "I'll leave Santa Claus and his list to the elves.'' Later, when queried as to whether he liked candy canes, he said, "I'm not a hard candy guy, no.'' Noticing the inquisitor was holding a candy cane, the coach said, "Why, was that going to be a gift? You can hang onto that. Happy holidays!'' . . . Butler quickly shot out "Home Alone!'' when asked what his favorite Christmas movie was . . . Belichick put to rest any thoughts that he might rest players against the Jets Sunday. Speaking to the New York media, he said, "We're getting ready to play the Jets. We're getting everybody ready to play.''


Jim McBride can be reached at