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Friday, December 2, 2011
NFC South lags in Pro Bowl voting

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

If the Pro Bowl were held now and selected only by what has taken place so far in fan balloting, the NFC South would not be sending much of a contingent to Hawaii.

The NFL makes periodic announcements about who is leading the fan voting and the latest one showed New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham was the only NFC South player leading at any position.

I was able to obtain a little more information and got the list of the top five vote-getters at each position, according to results through Wednesday night. Even on that list, the NFC South isn’t having a very good showing. At the moment, the NFC roster would be dominated by players from Green Bay, San Francisco, Chicago and the always-hyped NFC East teams.

Let’s take a look at the sparse group of NFC South players, who are in the top five at their positions.

Tight end actually is the NFC South’s strongest position. One spot behind Graham is Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez.

Next, we’ll move to the quarterbacks, partly because everybody cares about quarterbacks and partly because that’s the only other position where two NFC South players showed up in the top five. New Orleans’ Drew Brees is No. 2 (behind Aaron Rodgers, of course). But here’s the surprise. Carolina rookie Cam Newton is third on the list, slightly ahead of Detroit’s Matthew Stafford.

The only other NFC South players even in the top five on the rest of the offense are Atlanta running back Michael Turner (No. 5), Carolina receiver Steve Smith (No. 3), New Orleans fullback Jed Collins (No. 3) and New Orleans guard Jahri Evans (No. 4).

On defense, it’s even worse. Carolina’s Charles Johnson is No. 5 among defensive ends. Atlanta’s Sean Weatherspoon is fifth among outside linebackers and New Orleans’ Roman Harper is No. 2 among strong safeties. That’s it on defense.

Even the special-teams voting is disappointing, especially because New Orleans kick returner Darren Sproles and punter Thomas Morstead are having huge years. But you wouldn’t know it from the voting. Morstead is fifth at his position and Sproles is No. 4.

If you feel outraged by any of this, go over and vote. If not, the NFC South will have to get a lot of support when coaches and players vote (each counts one-third) later in December.