The NFL Pro Bowl rosters have been announced, and three Steelers can start packing their bags for Honolulu. Safety Troy Polomalu and LB James Harrison are heading back to the game yet again, and this year they will be joined by rookie center Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey has started very game for the Steelers this season, which is a remarkable feat in itself, let alone being a rookie and doing it. When the Steelers drafted Pouncey, they were hoping that he could step in and learn quickly. They were right, and from the start of training camp he has exceeded expectations, and it looks as though the Steelers have found their next great center. He might as well get a timeshare in Oahu, because I have a feeling he'll be going there a lot the next 10 years or so.
Troy is having just another Troy type of season. As long as #43 remains healthy, he seems to be assured a trip to the Pro Bowl. Although he has missed the last couple games with a strained Achilles tendon, he still leads the team with 6 interceptions, returning one for a TD. Throw 62 tackles into the mix, the chaos and disruption he brings on each play, along with his immense popularity and it is easy to see why he was selected to yet another Pro Bowl.
The third Steeler heading to the islands is the Silverback himself, LB James Harrison. Brush aside all of the fines, 'bogus' penalties, and controversies surrounding Harrison this year, and you'll see that he is having another spectacular season. His game thrives on intimidation and pressuring the QB, and once again he leads the team with 11 sacks. If he wasn't being held on every pass play, he would probably be pushing around 20 sacks this season. Throw in a half a dozen forced fumbles, a pair on INTs, and an undetermined number of angry glares at opposing QBs (and possibly league officials?) and Harrison is easily carrying on the tradition of great Steeler linebackers.
All three are extremely worthy of making the Pro Bowl. Question is, should there be more than three Steelers going to the game? A few came to mind rather easily:
1. LB Lawrence Timmons - he might be overshadowed by other big names on this defense, but has become a solid star at the LB postion. He leads the team with 126 tackles (87 solo) and his 3 sacks and 2 INTs show he is more than ready to become the next great Steeler LB.
2. LB LaMarr Woodley - His 8.5 sacks rank second on the team, and like Timmons has shown that he belongs in the conversation of the great young LBs in the league. He helps the top ranked rush defense stuff the run with his 48 tackles, and spends most Sundays making QBs run for their life. He might not have made the Pro Bowl this season, but I have a feeling that he'll play in plenty during his career.
3. WR Mike Wallace - Ok, maybe he doesn't have "Reggie Wayne/Andre Johnson" type numbers, but he's getting close. With 1,152 yards on only 57 receptions, Wallace has an eye popping 20.2 yards per catch average. That's two years in a row averaging right around 20 ypc, and he is quickly becoming Ben's favorite target. With his speed, great hands, and precise route running, Wallace should be breaking into the AFC wide receiver elite very soon. He's making all Steeler fans feel comfortable saying "Santonio who?"
4. TE Heath Miller - He doesn't have huge receiving numbers, TDs, or spectacular huge games. He's just a solid receiver, great run blocker, and quite possibly the best all-around tight end in the league. You can't quantify what he brings to the game, but just watch a Steeler game and you'll quickly see that he belongs in the Pro Bowl.
Congratulations to the Steelers selected to this year's Pro Bowl squad. However, if all goes according to plan, the three selectees will have to settle for watching the game with their teammates.
In their hotel rooms in Dallas.
While they gameplan for their appearance in the Super Bowl one week later!