Vick, 7 Falcons make Pro Bowl

Associated Press
Wednesday, December 29, 2010; D05

Michael Vick's sensational comeback season made a big impression throughout the NFL, not just in Philadelphia.

The Eagles' quarterback, who sat out two seasons while serving a federal sentence for dogfighting, will start for the NFC in the Jan. 30 Pro Bowl in Honolulu.

Vick was selected in a league-wide vote by NFL players, coaches and fans.

Vick made three Pro Bowls with Atlanta before he was suspended by the league and served jail time for running a dogfighting ring. This season, he has gone from a seldom-used backup to the NFC's leading passer, the catalyst for Philadelphia's dynamic offense. Besides Vick, the Eagles had four other players selected.

Atlanta, which leads the NFC with a 12-3 record, had the most Pro Bowlers with seven, including quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Roddy White and defensive end John Abraham.

New England (13-2), the AFC leader, had six Pro Bowlers, led by quarterback Tom Brady, the league's top passer who will make his sixth trip to the game - providing the Patriots don't make the Super Bowl. The game will be played the Sunday before the title game at Cowboys Stadium.

Baltimore, Green Bay and Dallas also had five players voted in Tuesday.

Four rookies were chosen, with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh of Detroit a starter for the NFC. Cornerback Devin McCourty of New England, kick returner Marc Mariani of Tennessee and center Maurkice Pouncey of Pittsburgh made the AFC squad.

l STEELERS: Pittsburgh probably won't know until Friday whether safety Troy Polamalu can play in Sunday's final regular season game at Cleveland.

Polamalu hasn't played or practiced for two weeks because of an injured right Achilles' tendon. Coach Mike Tomlin said he won't practice Wednesday or Thursday.

"Troy is improving," Tomlin said Tuesday. "We're going to look at him and watch him move. It's not out of the realm of possibility he could play. If he's healthy, he will."

If Polamalu can't go Friday, he won't play against the Browns (5-10), who upset the Steelers, 13-6, in Cleveland last season.

While the Steelers aren't ruling out Polamalu, linebacker James Farrior said Monday it didn't look good for Polamalu being ready by this weekend - despite what will be a 10-day break since Pittsburgh beat Carolina, 27-3, on Thursday.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's broken nose isn't considered a problem, even though it was bloodied by a hit in the Carolina game.

l UNION: Brian Dawkins, a union executive committee member, said he believes NFL owners and players have a sense of urgency to avoid a lockout because they don't want to alienate fans.

"I would think common sense would say at the end of the day, after all the fighting and after all the words are said, we understand who butters our bread," the veteran Denver Broncos safety said. "That's where the urgency comes in at."

Dawkins and fellow NFL Players Association executive committee member Mike Vrabel alternated between optimism and expressing frustration with the league's proposals during a conference call about negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The current deal expires March 4, raising fears of a lockout. One major sticking point is the NFL's desire to go from 16 regular season and four preseason games to 18 and two.

Dawkins and Vrabel said the league hadn't offered enough in return for what they believe will be shorter careers - and therefore less money made - with the longer regular season resulting in more punishment for players' bodies.

l 49ERS: San Francisco President and CEO Jed York interviewed Tony Softli as the first known candidate to fill the team's vacant general manager position, a person with knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press.

Softli, a former personnel executive with the Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams, met with York. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the matter. York fired Coach Mike Singletary late Sunday after a 25-17 loss at St. Louis eliminated the 49ers (5-10) from playoff contention, their eighth consecutive year out of the postseason.

York vowed to turn his team back into a contender, starting by hiring a GM. That person will choose Singletary's successor.

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