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Monday, January 9, 2012
The AFC South on my awards ballot

By Paul Kuharsky

We will do an All AFC South team after the Texans' season ends, and I will definitely solicit your input when we get to it. That's always an exciting time.

On the heels of the All Pro Team announcement last week, I wanted to share the votes I cast for the annual Pro Football Weekly/ Pro Football Writers of America awards and All-Pro Team. This ballot was due before the playoffs kicked off Saturday.

Here’s a rundown of how I factored in the AFC South:

Assistant coach of the year: Wade Phillips, Texans. I’ll be surprised if Houston’s defensive coordinator isn’t the winner here. His role in the team’s personnel additions and his implementation of the new 3-4 scheme transformed a weak, scared defense into a juggernaut that ranked No. 2 in the NFL.

All-Pro: Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, Texans center Chris Myers, Texans tackle Duane Brown, Texans inside linebacker Brian Cushing and Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph. Jones-Drew was the lone player from the division on the AP All-Pro first team, and deserved it. Perhaps a little heavy on Houston, but all four of those guys were consistently excellent.

All-AFC: All the All-Pro guys plus Houston tackle Eric Winston, Indianapolis defensive end Robert Mathis and Jacksonville linebacker Daryl Smith. Winston was very good, Mathis remains a terror and Smith was really excellent surrounded by better people.

All-Rookie: Houston defensive linemen J.J. Watt, Tennessee defensive tackles Karl Klug and Jurrell Casey, Houston outside linebacker Brooks Reed. Watt is a Pro Bowl caliber player already. And Reed helped offset the loss of Mario Williams. Klug and Casey weren't the same impact level, but they played a lot and contributed a lot, and guys like that make this team.

A note on one omission: Texans GM Rick Smith could win executive of the year. But I didn’t want to go overboard with Houston, and actually thought Bengals owner Mike Brown had a near perfect year as he shed Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, drafted A.J. Green and Andy Dalton and fleeced Oakland in the Carson Palmer trade.