All-Pros: Brilliant newcomers and seasoned stars

By Barry Wilner

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Jan. 7 2012 3:05 a.m. MST

"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 16½ 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.

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