The Browns will be represented on both sides of the ball and then some at the 2015 Pro Bowl.
Safety Tashaun Gipson, cornerback Joe Haden and left tackle Joe Thomas landed spots in the NFL's annual all-star game. The invite is the first for Gipson, second for Haden and eighth for Thomas, who has landed a spot in the game after every one of his seasons in the league.
"I'm very happy for our players that have received the recognition of being named to the Pro Bowl because they are deserving of the honor," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "They have each worked extremely hard this season and have been great examples for their teammates. They are selfless players that I know would trade the individual accolade for more team success. Each will serve as a great representative of the Cleveland Browns and the Dawg Pound in the game next month."
The game is set for Jan. 25 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Super Bowl is one week later at the same site.
This marks the third time since 1999 the Browns have sent three or more players to the Pro Bowl. The opportunity remains for others to be added to the roster as alternates.
All three players were the leaders at their respective position in the fans' vote, which accounts for one-third of the equation to select 86 players from the NFL's 32 teams. The players will be assigned to teams through the Pro Bowl Draft during the week leading up to the game.
Despite missing the past four games with a knee injury, Gipson has the second-most interceptions (six) of anyone in the NFL with one game left to play. The third-year pro out of Wyoming started every game he was available and added 28 tackles. He forced a fumble and amassed 158 yards on his six interception returns. His longest went for 62 and a touchdown in the Browns' win over the New Orleans Saints.
Gipson had hoped to return for last week's game at Carolina but was instead placed on season-ending injured reserve.
"I feel truly blessed to be selected to the Pro Bowl, and I really want to first thank God because without Him, this wouldn't be possible; and thank my family, my coaches and my teammates for supporting me and believing in me, as well as the Dawg Pound," Gipson said. "It's an honor to be recognized by the NFL and the fans, but it's also a credit to the talented guys on our defense and our coaches who I've been fortunate to work alongside and play with all year."
Haden, who landed his first Pro Bowl invite last season, endured what he considered a slow start to once again shine as one of the NFL's top cornerbacks. Haden, who missed this past Sunday's game with a shoulder injury, locked down the likes of A.J. Green, Andre Johnson, Julio Jones and Sammy Watkins during a dominant second half of 2014. He intercepted a pass in three consecutive November games and led a secondary that is No. 1 by a long shot in ProFootballFocus.com's pass coverage rankings.
"I want to thank all of our fans, I can't say enough about how much I appreciate them for always supporting us. I feel like we have done some good things this season and we are going to continue to push forward for the city of Cleveland. It's great to be recognized for my second Pro Bowl, but I would trade it all for team success and that's what everyone is our locker room is working for."
Browns defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil called Haden "the best corner in football" earlier this month.
"No challenge is too big," Pettine said earlier this month. "He looks forward to it. He's not a guy that kind of shies away from that."
Thomas has been his usual, rock-solid self throughout his eighth season with the Browns. The veteran from Wisconsin adjusted seamlessly to a big change in his blocking schemes and showed off some power in the run game. He's No. 1 in ProFootballFocus.com's grades for offensive tackles and was recently named the Browns' Player of the Year in a unanimous vote by the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America.
Among Browns, only Lou Groza (nine) and Jim Brown (nine) have made more Pro Bowls than Thomas.
"It's always an honor to be recognized for your hard work by the fans, coaches and your peers," Thomas said. "It's a feeling that never gets old. It means a lot to me to be selected to my eighth Pro Bowl and it is very humbling to be mentioned with the likes of Browns greats like Jim Brown and Lou Groza."