Wednesday, December 28, 2011

3 Steelers chosen Pro Bowl starters

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Maurkice Pouncey and Ben Roethlisberger were both voted to their second Pro Bowl. (AP Photo by Gene Puskar)

Three Steelers will start for the AFC in the Pro Bowl and two players made the team for the first time although it's an all-star game they hope none of them will get to play.

Five Steelers made it. Safety Troy Polamalu, center Maurkice Pouncey and wide receiver Mike Wallace are starters for the Pro Bowl that was announced Tuesday by the NFL. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made it as a backup as did Antonio Brown as a kick returner.

The game will be played Jan. 29 in Honolulu, which again will eliminate the opportunity for those on the two Super Bowl teams to participate.

Wallace and Brown made their first Pro Bowl.

Polamalu, the 2010 NFL defensive player of the year, made his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl, providing more evidence to what looks to be a Hall of Fame career.

Pouncey made his second consecutive Pro Bowl and first as a starter. He was a backup as a rookie. This is Roethlisberger's second selection. He made the team after the 2007 season. After the '09 season, other quarterbacks backed out of the game, and, as an alternate, Roethlisberger was extended a berth but declined, saying he had a shoulder injury.

Wallace ranks second among wide receivers in the AFC with 1,182 yards. Brown ranks seventh among wide receivers with 1,108 yards. He set a Steelers record with 2,048 all-purpose yards (receiving, rushing, returns) this season, ranks fourth in the AFC with a 10.8-yard average on punt returns and second with an average of 27.7 yards on kickoff returns.

For the first time, the Steelers publicly revealed their players who made it as first or second alternates, those who would be extended invitations to the game if others cannot or will not participate.

Linebacker James Harrison is a first alternate and free safety Ryan Clark and linebacker LaMarr Woodley are second alternates.

Harrison, the 2008 NFL defensive player of the year, made the past four Pro Bowls but missed four games this season with an eye injury and another to an NFL suspension. Woodley missed five of the past seven games with a hamstring injury.

They are tied for the team lead with nine sacks apiece.

Clark has never made a Pro Bowl. He can become the first safety to lead the team in tackles since such records could be found starting in 1980.

He has 96 tackles, eight more than Polamalu and 10 more than linebacker Lawrence Timmons, as calculated by the coaching staff.

Polamalu leads them in solo tackles with 73, four more than Timmons.

The one surprise among those who did not make it is defensive end Brett Keisel, although he is having possibly his best season

Ed Bouchette's blog on the Steelers and Gerry Dulac's Steelers chats are featured exclusively on PG+, a members-only web site from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Our introduction to PG+ gives you all the details.

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