Pro Bowl is not the goal

For the five players in the Steelers locker room who were voted to the 2020 Pro Bowl, it's an honor they appreciate, they are humbled by and they worked their tails off to earn.

But to a man they would be more than happy to not play in the game, to be too busy that week preparing for the ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl.

"All the individual stuff is one thing, but hopefully we won't have to be playing in that game at all," said T.J. Watt. "It is special. It's nice to get the recognition but it means nothing if the team isn't up to par. Everything is because of this team. It's not only the defense, it's the offense, the special teams. It's a collective effort. The whole defense is playing well and that is why you are seeing guys getting recognized.

"I just want to keep getting better each and every week. Come out this week, have a good week in practice, go to New York and hopefully come back with a win."

That feeling was echoed from his Pro Bowl teammates.

"It's an outstanding award from your peers, coaches and fans. You play with them, you have known them over the years. It is a pretty cool thing, especially all of the great players who have played in this league," said Maurkice Pouncey. "I wish there would be another award. We'll see how the season plays out. I know everybody here is focused and ready and excited for the guys who did make it, but we have bigger dreams."

Pouncey, Watt, David DeCastro, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cam Heyward were all voted to the Pro Bowl, with all but DeCastro selected as starters.

"It means a lot. I put a lot of hard work into this," said Heyward. "I am just very thankful to have teammates that put me in good situations, coaches who do the same. There are a lot of deserving people out there. To be a part of a special group means a lot.

"I think we were deserving of having more. I think the starters, T.J. and Minkah, they have played their tails off. I couldn't be more proud of those guys. They have come in, Minkah just getting here, and T.J. every year getting better and better. Those two set the example for a lot of these younger guys.

"The goal is to get a Super Bowl, but to have great players around you, that is all you could ever ask for."

For Fitzpatrick, who was traded to the Steelers in September, it's his first selection and while he agrees with his teammates, like them he is also honored to have made it.

"It's exciting," said Fitzpatrick. "It's a goal of mine. It's awesome to be able to achieve it in year two. I just have to keep working, finish this year strong. One feels good, but one wasn't the goal. I have to keep working, keep grinding, and keep trying to win games.

"It's definitely crazy to see how things worked. It's awesome we are seeing the fruits of everything that transpired. It's exciting. For any athlete going through something, stay true to who you are, keep your head down, keep working and at the end of the day you will get what you deserve."

DeCastro has been there, done that with the Pro Bowl, selected to his fourth one, but he still appreciates the fact that he was thought of enough by his peers to earn their vote.

"It's a tremendous honor and it always will be," said DeCastro. "You can never downplay it. To have the respect of your teammates and people around the league is great.

"It's one of those things where you are always worried about what you put on film. You are always worried about that. It's a tremendous honor."

And then he added.

"Hopefully we are not playing it."