|Brady among 5 Patriots voted to AP NFL All-Pro team|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 10 January 2008 00:45|
Sixteen players, including league MVP Tom Brady, made The Associated Press NFL All-Pro Team for the first time.
Yes, the record-setting New England quarterback who has won three Super Bowls in his eight pro seasons never was chosen an All-Pro, beaten out by the likes of fellow MVPs Peyton Manning, Kurt Warner and Rich Gannon.
Among the other newcomers were Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who led the league with 10 interceptions; Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware; and Titans placekicker Rob Bironas.
``This year, I think I proved a lot of people wrong, with everybody saying how my knee injury was going to affect me,'' said Cromartie, whose first healthy NFL season was 2007. ``I mean, I'm two years off of it. My biggest thing was proving everybody wrong.''
Bironas also has proven himself in the NFL after spending four years playing indoor football. He made a record eight field goals in a win at Houston, and was 35-for-39, plus a perfect 28-of-28 on PATs.
``It's been an incredible journey,'' said Bironas. ``I didn't have any doubt in myself when I got started on this journey in high school. That was my dream to play in the pros, and I just kept pursuing it. I wanted to be one of the better kickers in the NFL, and this year I was able to do that.''
Ware one was of the top linebackers, a pass-rushing threat who also was solid against the run. Offensive coordinators needed to account for Ware on every down.
``Coming from a smaller college, playing defensive end, and then converting to linebacker, seeing how over the years I've gotten better and better coverage-wise and stopping the run and, secondly, rushing the passer,'' Ware said of his improvement since being a 2005 first-round draft pick out of Troy. ``Now, I feel like I'm a well-rounded linebacker. Now I'm getting put in the realm with those other guys that have been here seven, eight years and have been great players. So you really see how your hard work pays off. It's a great thing.''
The greatest thing in the NFL during the regular season: the Patriots. Along with Brady, who drew 49 1/2 of the ballots from 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL - one voter split at quarterback between Brady and Green Bay's Brett Favre - New England had wide receiver Randy Moss (a unanimous choice), tackle Matt Light, linebacker Mike Vrabel and cornerback Asante Samuel on the All-Pro team.
All but Moss made the All-Pro team for the first time; Moss was chosen as a Minnesota Viking in 1998, 2000 and 2003.
Along with Moss, the other unanimous pick was Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, the league's rushing leader, who made it for the third time.
Joining Tomlinson and Cromartie from the Chargers was fullback Lorenzo Neal, who clears many of L.T.'s paths.
Also with three players on the team were Dallas and Seattle. The Cowboys had Ware, tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Terrell Owens; Ware and Witten were first-timers, Owens also was selected in 2000, '01 and '02 with San Francisco, and 2004 with Philadelphia.
``Any time you can be the best in the entire league, that's always a special moment,'' said Witten, who had 96 receptions and seven touchdowns this season. ``There's a lot of great tight ends out there, so to be on the top of that list is nice.''
The Seahawks had tackle Walter Jones, defensive end Patrick Kerney and linebacker Lofa Tatupu. Jones previously made All-Pro in 2001, '04 and '05; the others Seahawks were first-timers.
Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren called Tatupu's three-interception day in a win at Philadelphia on Dec. 2 ``one of the great games I've ever seen a linebacker have.''
``Everybody has been instrumental in everything that I've been able to do,'' Tatupu said. ``The D-line has been enabling me to get sacks, DBs staying on their guys so we can get back there and get sacks, or getting interceptions.''
Joining Brady, Tomlinson and Neal in the backfield was Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook, who led the league in yards from scrimmage with 2,104.
``Being named first-team All-Pro is an unbelievable way to cap a season that I am very proud of from a personal standpoint, although I wish things would have turned out differently for our team,'' said Westbrook, whose Eagles were 8-8. ``I have always said that I would trade personal accomplishments for the success of my team, but it's great to be recognized for the things I have worked so hard to achieve.''
The rest of the offense had Minnesota guard Steve Hutchinson, Pittsburgh guard Alan Faneca, and Indianapolis center Jeff Saturday.
The other All-Pros on defense were Kansas City end Jared Allen, the league sacks leader with 15 1/2; Minnesota tackle Kevin Williams and Tennessee tackle Albert Haynesworth; San Francisco inside linebacker Patrick Willis, the only rookie on the squad; Indianapolis safety Bob Sanders, the Defensive Player of the Year; and Baltimore safety Ed Reed, making it for the third time.
San Francisco punter Andy Lee, also a newcomer to the squad, and record-setting kick returner Devin Hester of Chicago, who made it as a rookie in 2006, as well, were the other special-teamers.
In all, 15 AFC players and 12 from the NFC were chosen as All-Pros.