Five Chargers named to Pro Bowl squad

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates, kicker Nate Kaeding, guard Kris Dielman and special teamer Kassim Osgood have been voted to play in the 2010 Pro Bowl all-star game in Miami.

Kaeding and Osgood were the top vote-getters in the AFC at their respective positions. The players, coaches and fans each had an equal hand in the voting.

Rivers, who currently ranks among the league’s top quarterbacks, owns the highest passer rating in the AFC (104.5) and earned the second Pro Bowl nod of his career.

“It’s an honor,” Rivers said. “Any time you’re a part of the Pro Bowl team and in company with the other great quarterbacks it is a big honor. However, being named to the Pro Bowl is as much about the guys around me as anything. It takes a lot of guys for individuals to get recognized. The quarterback position more than any other, needs every other guy playing at a high level to make it. If I can’t get the ball off because of pressure or if nobody’s making great catches, I’m not going to have the success I’ve had this season and throughout my career.

“We had more (players) that are as deserving that didn’t get that call today and I’m disappointed for those guys. We’ve got a lot of guys on both sides of the ball and on special teams that I believe are Pro Bowl worthy.”

Rivers credited Head Coach Norv Turner as well.

“He’s been huge in my progress. I knew very early on when we first met that we thought a lot alike and have similar approaches to the game. That helped immediately because we were able to understand how each other thinks. Running this system and his ability to coach the position is exceptional. It’s been a great fit.”

Gates was selected to his sixth-consecutive Pro Bowl squad. He leads the Chargers with 78 receptions and set a new career high with 1,145 receiving yards, tops among NFL tight ends.

Kaeding is 29 of 32 on field goal attempts and ranks second in the NFL with 135 points this season, one point shy of his career high. He is in the midst of an NFL-record streak of 68 consecutive made field goals of 40-yards or less (including playoffs).

Dielman tallied enough votes to make the all-star roster for the third-consecutive season. He is an integral part of an offensive line that has allowed just 10 sacks in the last 301 pass plays and just five in the last six games. He has started all 15 games this season.

“It’s a great individual honor, but ultimately I hope I’m not playing in it because I want to be getting ready to play in the Super Bowl,” Dielman said.

“It’s always an honor,” Dielman said. “I’m lucky to have a lot of great teammates around me that help me. Playing next to Marcus (McNeill) and Scott (Mruczkowski) and Nick (Hardwick), having Philip (Rivers), I know I benefit a lot from those guys. (Offensive line coach) Hal Hunter is another guy that’s really helped me get to this point in my career.

“There are other guys that should be going. With Vincent (Jackson) and Marcus (McNeill), the proof is in the pudding. They’ve both damn good players. Vincent gets lost in the shuffle because there are so many great receivers in the AFC, but if you’re going to tell me he’s not one of the top three I think you’re sorely mistaken. Marcus gets lost in the shuffle. There’s no one else I’d rather play next to. I think he’s the best left tackle in the league. He makes my job easier and I love playing with him.”

Special teams ace Osgood, who routinely draws double and triple teams in coverage, is headed to his third-career Pro Bowl. He has racked up 12 special teams tackles.

Running back Darren Sproles was named a first alternate, and four Chargers were named third alternates to the Pro Bowl. Left tackle Marcus McNeill, who made the Pro Bowl after each of his first two seasons ('06 and ’07), is a third alternate, as is wide receiver Vincent Jackson, cornerback Antonio Cromartie and punter Mike Scifres.

— Chargers Press Release