Saints’ Evans, Morstead voted to Pro Bowl game

METAIRIE – Guard Jahri Evans, a three-time All-Pro pick, and punter Thomas Morstead will represent the Saints at the Pro Bowl game to be played Jan. 27 in Honolulu.

Evans and Morstead were the only Saints chosen as primary picks although they likely have several alternates that weren’t immediately announced when the AFC and NFC all-star squads were revealed Wednesday night.

Evans, a seven-year veteran, was chosen for the fourth consecutive year as the anchor of an offensive line that ranks third in the NFL in total yards (408.9 per game) and points (28.2 per game).

His four selections are the second-most in club history behind William Roaf, a 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee who was picked seven times.

Morstead, who is in his fourth NFL season, is going to the Pro Bowl for the first time. He leads the league in gross (50.5) and net (44.4) punting average and on Sunday could break the NFL’s single-season record for net average, which is 43.99 yards by San Francisco’s Andy Lee last season.

Morstead said his selection was as much about his teammates and special teams coordinator Greg McMahon as it was about him.

“This our fourth year together,” Morstead said of McMahon, “and I credit a lot of my growth to his coaching and his being hard on me and pushing me and trying to get me to do things that maybe I didn’t think I’d be able to do that we do now.

“It’s pretty cool … it’s something neat to share,” he said. “My fiancé is here and I get to share it with all my family. Hopefully, I’ll get to take my parents to Hawaii.”

CAROLINA AGAIN: The Saints will close the regular season against the Carolina Panthers for the fifth time in the past seven seasons when they meet Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The Saints lost in their first three finales against the Panthers in 2006 (31-21), 2008 (33-31) and 2009 (23-10) before breaking through last season with a 45-17 victory in the Superdome on Jan. 1.

PRACTICE REPORT: Not practicing Wednesday when the Saints went back to work were CB Jabari Greer (concussion), RB Pierre Thomas (knee), FB Jed Collins (knee) and DT Akiem Hicks (knee).

TE Jimmy Graham (wrist/finger) and RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) had full participation.

For the Panthers, C Geoff Hangartner (foot) and LB James Anderson (back) did not practice, while RB Jonathan Stewart (ankle) and WR Brandon LaFell (toe) were limited. LaFell is a former LSU standout.

BREES NOMINATED: For the fifth time this season, Brees is a nominee for the FedEx NFL Air Player of the Week award after throwing for 446 yards and three TDs in a 34-31 win over the Dallas Cowboys.

Fans can vote online until 2 p.m. Friday at www.nfl.com/FedEx.

TICKETS AVAILABLE: Saints officials said Wednesday the Panthers returned a portion of their ticket allotment for Sunday’s game.

The tickets are available at the Saints ticket office at 5800 Airline Drive in Metairie and online at www.ticketmaster.com.