Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Sunday, January 23, 2011
Dockett wise to accept Pro Bowl invite

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Darnell Dockett's first inclination was to turn down the NFL's invite to replace the Minnesota Vikings' Kevin Williams in the Pro Bowl this year.

I can see why. Dockett's Arizona Cardinals suffered through a 5-11 season. Their defense struggled. The team even fired its defensive coordinator.

Dockett made the right decision in ultimately accepting the offer.

Accepting the invite was the only way for Dockett, as an alternate, to list a third Pro Bowl on his résumé. Years from now, few will ask how he earned those Pro Bowl trips. This one will count the same as the others.

Williams' Pro Bowl status remains intact because fans, coaches and players voted him to the game. Alternates do not enjoy the same status unless they play.

This was the second season in a row for an NFC West player to benefit from Williams' decision to withdraw from the game. Williams' withdrawal a year ago cleared the way for the San Francisco 49ers' Justin Smith to play in the game. Smith was named to the game as a starter this year. Williams was a backup to Smith and the Cowboys' Jay Ratliff.

Dockett and Smith are defensive ends in 3-4 schemes, but they count as defensive tackles in Pro Bowl balloting.