BOSTON (CBS) — With an early exit from the playoffs, a few Patriots players have the opportunity to play in the Pro Bowl for the first time in four years. But one of New England’s three Pro Bowlers has backed out of the exhibition.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower will not be playing in this year’s Pro Bowl next weekend, skipping out on the festivities due to an injury. Buffalo linebacker Tremaine Edmunds will take his place, the Bills announced on Thursday.

Hightower played in 15 games during the regular season, racking up 71 tackles and 5.5 sacks for New England, adding another nine tackles and a QB hit in the team’s Wild Card loss to the Tennessee Titans. This year’s Pro Bowl honors are just the second of Hightower’s career.

While he won’t be playing, it looks like cornerback Stephon Gilmore will participate. He was announced as part of the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown next Wednesday, and will probably show off his skills again in the actual game on Sunday night.

There’s still no word on if New England special teams ace Matthew Slater will join Gilmore in Orlando.


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