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Peterson, Abraham, Bethel Pro Bowl Trio

Posted Dec 27, 2013

Fitzgerald, Dockett, Campbell, Washington alternates; Dansby snubbed

Linebacker John Abraham (55), cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) and special teams ace Justin Bethel (31) were named to the Pro Bowl Friday.

For Patrick Peterson, it is as normal as another year at training camp. For Justin Bethel, it’s a marker of how far he’s come from the tiny program of Presbyterian College. For John Abraham, it’s a vindication that he was right in putting off retirement.

And for Karlos Dansby, it’s another year of disappointment.

The NFL announced Friday night the players that made the Pro Bowl, the first year in which conference did not matter and teams will be chosen – on the playground style – at a later date. Peterson, the team’s top cornerback, Bethel, the special teams ace, and Abraham, the veteran outside linebacker, were all picked for the Cardinals.

Four Cardinals were chosen as Pro Bowl alternates: Defensive end Calais Campbell, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and linebacker Daryl Washington. Campbell has a strong case to already have been put on the team. Meanwhile, the coaches and players vote for a second straight season show how Fitzgerald, who figures to fall short of 1,000 yards, garners so much respect around the league.

Dansby was chosen as the team’s MVP earlier Friday by the media covering the team, but in what he has called his best season, he did not even earn alternate status.

Earlier this week, Dansby shrugged off worry that he might not make it. “It ain’t going to crush me because my play speaks for itself,” he said.

The Cardinals do not release what level of alternate each player has been named. Any of those four could still end up going to Hawaii depending on players in front of them getting injured or making the Super Bowl. The game will be played Jan. 26, with the “draft” held on the NFL Network Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. Arizona time.

The draft will include Peterson, Bethel and Abraham for sure. Peterson was all but a lock, having finished in the top three in fan voting and having a stellar season covering the opposition’s top wide receiver every game. Peterson is only the second Cardinal, after Ollie Matson, to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons. Peterson has three interceptions, 28 passes defensed and 38 tackles this season.

“I don’t play this position to be second,” Peterson said earlier this season. “I play to be the best in the game. That’s not being arrogant. That’s not being cocky. I feel like I have done enough things in my young career to be considered the best. Am I the best to some people? Maybe not. But in my eyes I feel like I am the best cornerback in the league.”

Bethel has emerged as a playmaker covering kickoffs, punts and also on the field-goal block unit. He has an impressive 18 special-teams tackles this year along with two blocked field goals and two other field-goal misses forced because of his strong off-the-edge rush. Bethel’s downfield coverage has spearheaded a unit that has made 53 opponent drives to start inside their own 20-yard line, a total second only to Kansas City’s 54.

“Special teams, it’s what I do,” Bethel, a cornerback, said earlier this season. “I enjoy it, and this year, I have the chance to maybe go to the Pro Bowl, so I focus on doing what I can.”

Abraham considered retiring before signing with the Cardinals as training camp began, and put together a season of 11½ sacks playing virtually all the time. Originally signed to be a pass-rush specialist, Abraham has been an every-down player after season-ending injuries Week 3 to Lorenzo Alexander and Sam Acho. Abraham has 50 tackles four forced fumbles, four tackles for loss and 26 quarterback pressures.

“I’m not, ‘If I get 15 sacks and we lose I’ve had a good season.’ I’m not like that,” Abraham said earlier this season. “Getting sacks is good when you win. It always feels better when you win. Right now, sacks and forcing turnovers helps us win.”

It is Abraham’s fifth Pro Bowl selection with his third team, having made it with the Jets and Falcons previously.

 

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