ENGLEWOOD - If it's true that most players earn trips to the Pro Bowl for what they did the year before, then Demaryius Thomas and Wesley Woodyard of the Broncos should start making plans to be there in 2014.
The Denver receiver, with 1,312 yards and nine touchdowns, and linebacker, who leads the team with 110 tackles, were among the most surprising omissions from the AFC team announced Wednesday.
Another surprise: The Broncos, with their 13-2 record, placed five players on the roster - same number as their opponent Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs, who are 2-13.
Thomas, who put himself on the map last year with his 80-yard overtime catch and run in a playoff win over Pittsburgh, took the so-called snub in stride.
"It happened. They deserved it," Thomas said about AFC receivers A.J. Green, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker. "They had a great year. We have a lot of good receivers in our conference."
Only Green had both more touchdowns and yards than Thomas. Welker's numbers were lower in both categories, though the New England receiver is going to his fifth Pro Bowl while Thomas is still waiting for his first.
That, according to several of Thomas' and Woodyard's teammates and coaches, sometimes makes the biggest difference when fans, players and coaches are filling out their ballots.
"I think we've had some excellent performances by a lot of players, not just the ones that made the Pro Bowl," coach John Fox said. "But again, you can only vote so many guys in, and my experience is it takes a year to get in and a year to get out. In time, if you perform consistently, then you'll be on it."
Woodyard has 5 1/2 sacks and three interceptions to go with his tackles, but was not even selected as an alternate. The linebacker, enjoying by far the best year of his five in the league, did not make himself available for interviews Thursday.
"He's definitely had a Pro Bowl season," said cornerback Champ Bailey, who made his 12th Pro Bowl, most ever for a defensive back. "The funny thing about getting in is, it's partially a popularity contest. ... I think next year, people will start really taking notice, 'Oh this guy was balling last year.' It'll happen. You've just got to put years together."'
Of course, if Bailey and the other four Broncos Pro Bowlers - Peyton Manning, Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil and Ryan Clady - have their way, they'll be spending the end of January preparing for the Super Bowl, not the Pro Bowl.
"At some point, I want to be able to tell the people at the Pro Bowl that I'm not coming because I'm playing in the big game," Bailey said of the Super Bowl, which takes place the week after the NFL's all-star game. "That's really what my eyes are on, just making sure we keep winning and get to that big game."