According to league sources, three Vikings were named as second alternates on the NFC roster for this year’s Pro Bowl in Orlando.

Return specialist Marcus Sherels, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and fullback C.J. Ham are the next closest Vikings players to make the all-star game after their initial four selections this week.

Receiver Adam Thielen, defensive end Danielle Hunter, linebacker Anthony Barr and safety Harrison Smith were voted onto the original Pro Bowl roster.

Sherels, the ninth-year return man, has yet to play in a Pro Bowl despite carving out a role as one of the league’s best punt returners since he earned the Vikings job in 2011.

“He’s got 29 explosive returns, and explosive returns are defined as 20 or more yards in punt returns,” special teams coordinator Mike Priefer said Thursday. “He’s got six of those this year; quietly had six of them. He had two on Sunday [against the Dolphins], which were two big plays.”

On the Pro Bowl roster, Sherels is behind starter Tarik Cohen and an unknown NFC first alternate. Both Cohen and the unknown returner would have to bow out of the game for Sherels to be given the opportunity to play in Orlando on Jan. 28.

While some NFL teams publicize their Pro Bowl alternates, the Vikings have not.

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