Jonathan Vilma replaces Patrick Willis on NFC Pro Bowl team

The procession of Pro Bowl replacements has begun.

The New Orleans Saints announced that middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma has been named to the NFC’s Pro Bowl roster. He will replace Patrick Willis, who missed the season finale with the San Francisco 49ers after having surgery on his right hand.

It is the third Pro Bowl selection for Vilma, who was on the team last year and wound up being replaced himself.

“It’s always an honor to be elected to the Pro Bowl,” Vilma said in a statement released by the team. “I thank the fans, the players of the N.F.L. and the people around the league that thought highly enough of our efforts. There are a lot of guys not only on our team that are deserving of being in the Pro Bowl. I am grateful for the recognition and just want to express my gratitude.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

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