Brilliant newcomers and seasoned stars make up AP's All-Pro Team

  • Article by: BARRY WILNER , Associated Press
  • Updated: January 7, 2012 - 4:02 AM

NEW YORK - Brilliant newcomers and seasoned stars. A winning blend for any team, including The Associated Press 2011 NFL All-Pro Team.

From Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to Lions receiver Calvin Johnson to Cardinals rookie kick returner Patrick Peterson, youth is well represented. So is veteran savvy with Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, Packers cornerback Charles Woodson and 49ers placekicker David Akers.

Fifteen players made the team for the first time in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL.

"It means a lot to me," said the Eagles' LeSean McCoy, selected Friday at running back along with Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew — both first-timers. "You think about all of the great players and running backs in this league and for me to be mentioned with them is an honor. It also means a lot to my teammates, guys that have pushed me all season long, coaches who helped me work on the little things and had faith in me to reach this accomplishment. And, of course, those guys up front did a great job all year. Those guys are beasts, man, it's easy to get big runs when your line is opening up huge holes for you every time you touch the ball."

It's difficult dealing with those guys as they run free with the ball, but safety Eric Weddle of San Diego did so well enough to be recognized as an All-Pro.

"I think it's overall consistent play," Weddle said. "I made a lot of plays on the ball, whether it's picking off a pass or covering my guy and knocking down a pass. I've tried not to give up big plays. It's just being sound in all phases and being an overall good football player."

Good — make that great — is represented throughout the All-Pro squad.

Johnson and Allen were the leading vote-getters, each just one vote shy of being a unanimous pick.

"That's sweet," said Johnson, who hauled in 96 catches for a 17.5-yard average and scoring 16 touchdowns. "That's one of the best honors you can have other than being a Super Bowl champion. To be an All-Pro is a tremendous honor."

Allen had 22 sacks, one-half short of Michael Strahan's league mark, to make his fourth All-Pro Team.

"This game, as much as it is a team sport, it's still very individual based," Allen said. "The best I can help my team win is to be the best individual defensive end I can be. You've got to have a selfish attitude to an extent, with the way you prepare yourself to help your team win games. But at the same time, if you don't have a successful team season, it (stinks). It makes that grind we all go through together that much tougher."

Nothing grinding about the year Rodgers has had. He easily beat Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints at quarterback, 47 1/2 votes to 2 1/2. Rodgers led Green Bay to a league-best 15-1 record this season, after taking the Packers to the Super Bowl title last February.

"I am a competitor," Rodgers said. "I care desperately about winning and doing everything I can to contribute. But personally, speaking for my own self, you learn exactly what you need to do to be able to balance the pressure from the outside with the pressure from within, that you put on yourself to be successful. Last year's run is really going to help all of us and our preparation through the week."

Peterson was the only rookie who made the squad. He tied an NFL mark when he ran back four punts for touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in overtime to beat the Rams.

"It's special to be the only rookie on the list and a nice way to end my first NFL season," said Peterson, a cornerback.

Another cornerback, Darrelle Revis of the Jets, was behind Johnson and Allen with 48 selections. Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs got 47.

One oddity: Both first-team guards, Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, were from the Saints. That hasn't happened since 1953, with Detroit's Lou Creekmur and Dick Stanfel.

"That's a great honor and that's a long time since it happened," Nicks said. "I think this shows it's recognized that we are strong and physical and not just big guys. We are athletic enough to pass protect 45 to 50 times a game and keep Drew clean."

In the All-Pro backfield joining Rodgers, whose quarterback rating of 122.5 broke Peyton Manning's single-season mark, were Jones-Drew, McCoy and fullback Vonta Leach of Baltimore, who made it in 2010 with Houston. Jones-Drew was the league's rushing leader with 1,606 yards.

"It is a `we' thing, not a `me' thing," Jones-Drew said, praising his teammates on offense and his coaches. "The guys who don't get the glory and keep blocking all day, and the coaches who don't get enough credit, it's for them."

McCoy scored 20 touchdowns, 17 rushing, and was the brightest spot in a down year for the hyped Eagles. Yet ...

"There are so many things I can do better," he said. "I look at the numbers and see so many plays I left on the field, so many yards. I can perfect my game a lot more."

Record-setter Rob Gronkowski was the tight end. The Patriot set the single-season mark at his position with 1,327 yards receiving. Teammate Wes Welker (league-high 122 catches) was the other receiver.

Pittsburgh's Maurkice Pouncey was the center, with Philadelphia's Jason Peters and Cleveland's Joe Thomas at tackle.

Joining Allen at defensive end was Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants.

"It's a great thing, a great accomplishment, and hopefully I can get it in the years that come again," said Pierre-Paul, who had 16 1/2 sacks in his second pro season. "It's a great run. All due respect, people are respecting me now as a great pass rusher and I am getting chips and stuff. That's the kind of stuff I like, me being one of the main guys on my team that can make a play when people are counting on me."

The defensive tackles were Haloti Ngata of the Ravens and Justin Smith of the 49ers — who also placed third at DE; the 49ers used him at both spots.

I just go out and play where I'm playing," Smith said. "I let that all that other peripheral stuff just be that, peripheral."

The linebackers were Suggs and DeMarcus Ware of Dallas on the outside, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman of the 49ers and Derrick Johnson of the Chiefs on the inside. Bowman and Johnson tied with 16 votes, half of Willis' total.

Revis and Woodson were the cornerbacks, with Troy Polamalu of the Steelers and Weddle at safety.

Both kickers were 49ers: placekicker David Akers and punter Andy Lee. The 49ers led the way with five All-Pros.

"What it says is, a rising tide lifts all ships," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "So, we're happy for them."

Repeaters from 2010 were Polamalu, Revis, Willis, Ngata, Evans, Thomas and Leach.

In addition to Johnson, Rodgers, Jones-Drew, McCoy and Peterson, other first-timers were Gronkowski, Nicks, Peters, Pouncey, Pierre-Paul, Smith, Suggs, Bowman, Johnson and Weddle.

There were 16 players from the NFC and 12 from the AFC.

___

AP Sports Writers Dave Campbell in Minneapolis, Larry Lage in Detroit, Janie McCauley in San Francisco, Mark Long in Jacksonville, and Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, N.J., contributed to this story.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:07 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 6:00 PM
Orlando
New York 6:30 PM
Toronto
San Antonio 7:00 PM
Houston
Miami 7:00 PM
Memphis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Chicago
Phoenix 8:00 PM
Utah
Sacramento 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Denver 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Dallas 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Colorado
Carolina 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Columbus 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 7:00 PM
Chicago
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close