Atlanta Falcons: Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White runs for a 39-yard touchdown during the second quarter. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White runs for a 39-yard touchdown during the second quarter. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)


By MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

FLOWERY BRANCH — The Falcons don’t want to send any players to the NFL’s Pro Bowl game.

That’s not because they lack candidates. Atlanta’s star players hope to be occupied with preparing for the Super Bowl in New Orleans instead of the NFL’s all-star game in Hawaii.

The 24-man rosters for each the AFC and NFC, plus five special-teams players, will be announced on NFL Network Wednesday night. The teams playing in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3 don’t send players to the Pro Bowl on Jan. 27.

The Falcons have several players who could be honored—as expected for the team that will finish the season with the best record in the NFC.

“We’ve got a lot of guys deserving to be recognized and we certainly hope they will be,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said.

The AFC and NFC squads are based on the votes of players, coaches and fans with each group’s vote counting for one-third. The voting for all three groups ended last week.

Among Atlanta’s candidates are tight end Tony Gonzalez, quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Roddy White, defensive end John Abraham and safeties William Moore and Thomas DeCoud. Gonzalez, Ryan and White were among the seven players the Falcons sent to the Pro Bowl in 2010, when they also had the NFC’s best record, and they appear to strong candidates to be honored again.

Gonzalez already got the nod from fans with 553,198 votes. Gonzalez has been named to 13 Pro Bowl rosters, including the past two.

Gonzalez, 36, ranks second among the league’s tight ends with 88 catches for 889 yards and is tied for third with eight touchdowns. His 63 catches for first downs are the most for a tight end, outpacing the Saints’ Jimmy Graham by nine.

Even when Gonzalez has a quiet game, such as when he had just one catch for nine yards during Atlanta’s victory at Detroit on Saturday, his teammates benefit.

“They used a lot of resources on Tony Gonzalez and that allowed us to get the ball to some of our playmakers outside,” Smith said.

Detroit’s focus on Gonzalez likely was influenced by Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, who was Gonzalez’s head coach for two seasons in Kansas City.

“We’re talking about probably one of the best players I’ve ever seen in my life, definitely at that position,” Cunningham said before the Lions played the Falcons. “I talked to Charlie Sanders (Detroit’s Hall of Fame tight end) yesterday at length and we were talking about Tony Gonzalez. What he said was, ‘’Gun,’ people don’t understand this guy is in the top five.’

“He looked at me like I didn’t know what he meant. I said, ‘Top five of all-time receivers, not just tight ends.’”

Ryan has recovered from a mid-season lull to finish the season strong. He ranks third in the NFC in touchdown passes (31), fourth in passing yards (4,481), fifth in quarterback rating (100.2) and sixth in completion percentage (69).

Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers got the most votes from fans among NFC quarterbacks. The other contenders at the position, such as New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Washington’s Robert Griffin III, haven’t won nearly as much as Ryan.

“Quarterbacks, I think, are judged on wins,” Lions coach Jim Schwartz said.

White was an injury replacement for last season’s Pro Bowl after being voted to the team in 2008, ‘09, and ‘10. White has 87 catches for 1,309 yards and seven touchdowns but faces stiff competition to be one of the four wide receivers to be selected.

Gonzalez, White and Jones (76 catches, 1,142 yards, 10 touchdowns) all have posted strong numbers in spite of Ryan spreading the ball around liberally.

“In our offense, I feel like it can be any one of those three guys to step up and make the plays week in and week out,” Ryan said. “I’m fortunate to have all of those guys around me.”

Abraham leads the Falcons in sacks (10) and forced fumbles (nine). He’s tied for third in the NFC in sacks and ranks second in forced fumbles.

DeCoud’s six interceptions rank second to New York’s Stevie Brown among NFC safeties. Moore has four interceptions, two forced fumbles and 75 tackles in spite of missing the past three games because of injury.

27 comments Add your comment

Bill

December 25th, 2012
10:09 am

Me and Julio down by the endzone.

Anderson

December 25th, 2012
10:09 am

Don’t forget about Julio Jones. And an offensive lineman (Justin Blalock?) may get a berth.

I expect anywhere from 5-8 Atlanta Falcons players selected to the Pro Bowl team.

FIRST!

December 25th, 2012
10:10 am

lowdownjj

December 25th, 2012
11:02 am

I hope to see the Coons playing in a REAL game. Love the NFL as much as any man possibly can… but the Pro Bowl is very hard to watch. Besides, the players have much loftier goals

NumberOneDirtyBird

December 25th, 2012
12:57 pm

Merry Christmas D-Led!

BigTimeTECHFan

December 25th, 2012
1:31 pm

Spoon should be in at LB
Ryan QB
White WR
DeCoud S
Blaylock OG

Esquire

December 25th, 2012
2:12 pm

Come on now, who are we kidding? All of our Pro Bowl players will undoubtly be available for the Pro Bowl.

robertussen

December 25th, 2012
5:13 pm

falcons had 9 not 7 in the 2010 probowl ryan, gonzalez, turner, weems, grimes, clabo, abraham, white, and mughelli. grimes and clabo were added late, grimes picked off p. manning in the game and rayn would have been mvp if not for throwing a pick and d hall having such a strong game.

Chaos

December 25th, 2012
5:54 pm

why do everyone keep saying we have the best record in the NFC??? We have the Best Record In the NFL! some respect pls…

falconsrus

December 26th, 2012
1:25 am

Hope you are feeling better D Led Birdz going to nawlins oh yeh

Chaucer

December 26th, 2012
1:27 am

Matt Ryan has the second highest completion percentage. Only Alex Smith, who hasn’t thrown a pass in weeks now is higher.

[...] officially secured home field advantage throughout the 2012 playoffs, doing so for more… Atlanta Falcons: Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday – blogs.ajc.com 12/25/2012 Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White runs for a 39-yard [...]

Thomas Brown

December 26th, 2012
5:07 am

We don’t know whom it is we play in week # 19, but we do know we don’t want to play them with anyone injured, and that our focus is on week # 19; while our defense can ill afford any injury even a nagging one, while our running game can ill afford any injury either. There are other positions such as OL, WR, TE and QB which would be devastating to our game in week # 19. Seattle cannot compete Russell Wilson compared to Matt Ryan, so I am not concerned about them, either way, despite Seattle’s defense.

Denver is a whole other story.

Green Bay ? Green Bay matches up with us. I would not say that Green Bay is better than Denver can be. Matt Ryan 2012 is the difference between Green Bay and us. Aaron Rodgers is not going to light up our secondary like Matt Ryan will their secondary. Great game. I’ll take Matt Ryan 2012 to what Aaron Rodgers is doing 2012. And, frankly, I think we will do better running the football against Green Bay than we would do against anyone, and that is never good for a team defending Matt Ryan.

This is our Divisional Play-Off Round Opponent : Green Bay and I remain not impressed with Green Bay’s defense and fully expect them to be lit-up by Matt Ryan because the play-action will be there because we will run the football better against Green Bay than we’ve done against anyone. Matt Ryan has more upside in this game, as a result than Aaron Rodgers.

49ers beat Arizona, so Seattle is the # 5 seed. Washington and Dallas determine who Seattle plays in the Wild Card Weekend games. Washington can defend the pass. All Dallas has is Tony Romo. This game is far from determined, therefore, although Dallas is weak. So, if Washington wins despite their weakness against Dallas’ 1 strength, Seattle plays Washington.

Washington – Seattle match-up is an away game for Seattle, when they went undefeated at home in Seattle but no so on the road. This match-up is completely the opposite of Dallas – Washington where Tony Romo figures to light-up Washington’s poor secondary because Seattle has no quarterback who can throw the football with Russell Wilson. What Tony Romo can do to the porous secondary of Washington, Seattle will never do. Therefore I see Washington as week # 19 opponent at home for the Falcons.

We beat Washington here by a TD. Matt Ryan passes the football as well if not better than everyone in the NFL, and Washington has no secondary and figures to be lit-up.

ATL-WASH

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Storming Norman

December 26th, 2012
12:10 pm

I don’t care who we play just bring them on!

WELCOME TO THE ICE HOUSE!

warfalcon

December 26th, 2012
12:37 pm

To be voted in is great,but they will not be able to go,ONE GAME AT A TIME,LETS GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

D man

December 26th, 2012
2:49 pm

So many of our Falcons deserve to go to the Pro-bowl. Too bad (NOT) that we will be preparing for the Superbowl so it really doesn’t matter. Julio is also deserving as he has been spectacular this year. He will get on the Pro-bowl roster in the future for sure after Tony retires and he gets more receptions…

SWAT Native

December 26th, 2012
7:50 pm

@ Storming Norman I like that Welcome to the Ice House! Better patent that one.

wisconsinfalcons fan

December 26th, 2012
8:31 pm

and now ladies and gentlemen in this corner we have whoever for the playoff and in this corner we have THE ATL FALCONS …THE DIRTY BIRDS THATS RIGHT … LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, PLAY OFF TIME, we will be there to the end, JUST WIN BABY!

[...] Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday [...]

[...] Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday [...]

[...] Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday [...]

[...] Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday [...]

[...] Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday [...]

[...] Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday [...]

[...] Pro Bowl teams announced Wednesday [...]