Injuries played a big role in how I adjusted my midseason All-Pro list to make the final version.
While a good portion of the midseason defensive selections held up, second-half injuries to Hakeem Nicks of the Giants, Antonio Gates of the Chargers and safety LaRon Landry of the Redskins opened the door for other top players. Great second halves by Tom Brady and Logan Mankins of the Patriots, Joe Thomas of the Browns, Ed Reed of the Ravens and others caused other adjustments.
Here are my selections:
Wide receiver troubled me the most. The hardest thing was not giving Andre Johnson or Calvin Johnson one of the All-Pro spots. Andre Johnson played all year with an ankle injury, but his 86-catch, 1,216-yard season didn’t stack up to Wayne and White. Calvin Johnson had 12 touchdown receptions.
It was a strange year for receivers. Only 17 had 1,000-yard seasons, but those who crossed that level had incredible numbers. Mike Wallace of the Steelers had a 21-yard average. Dwayne Bowe of the Chiefs led the league with 15 touchdown receptions.
Guard was particularly hard. Mankins made it easily by ending his holdout. His half-season was better than anyone else’s whole season. I really wanted to find a way to get Josh Sitton of the Packers on the list, but the two studs with the Saints -- Evans and Nicks -- are hard to keep off. Overall, though, it wasn’t a particularly great year at guard.
Next year will be tough at center. Mangold holds the edge now, but young rising stars such as Alex Mack of the Browns, Maurkice Pouncey of the Steelers and Ryan Kalil of the Panthers are serious challengers.
The position that killed me was outside linebacker. I didn’t have a problem keeping sack leader DeMarcus Ware off the list. The Cowboys’ defense was terrible. I struggled not rewarding Tamba Hali of the Chiefs, who was second in the league with 14.5 sacks. Still, I had to go with Matthews of the Packers and Wake of the Dolphins. They were my midseason picks and they didn’t disappoint in the second half of the season.