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Winslow Townson, Associated Press
New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater smiles while asked about making his first Pro Bowl during a media availability at the NFL football team's facility in Foxborough, Mass. Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Matthew Slater lost a costly fumble as a rookie. He missed two games with an elbow injury in his second season. Before his third season he wasn't sure the Patriots would keep him.

Now, in his fourth season with New England, he's made the Pro Bowl as the AFC's special teams player.

Slater said Wednesday it's been a long journey and his selection is a humbling honor.

The Patriots drafted him in the fifth round in 2008 from UCLA, where his main contributions were on special teams. He began this season as special teams captain. Seven other Patriots were chosen for the Pro Bowl: quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski, guards Logan Mankins and Brian Waters and defensive linemen Vince Wilfork and Andre Carter.