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By Ernie Palladino
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Wednesday night’s Pro Bowl reveal showed us that even as the local teams take a big pratfall, some players remained on their feet long enough to be recognized by their peers.
We’re talking about Jets defensive backs Antonio Cromartie and LaRon Landry, and Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, guard Chris Snee, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. All were named to their respective conference’s Pro Bowl list and all, presumably, will be able to actually make the Jan. 27 game in Honolulu.
Especially the Giants group, since they probably won’t be bothered with that darned Super Bowl XLVII a week later.
The fact that Cromartie and Landry made it has to make the heart a little warmer, if only because of their recognition as a couple of pros among Rex Ryan’s Island of Misfit Toys. Through all the nonsense surrounding Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, the lack of a running game, and Bart Scott’s media blame game, Cromartie kept his mouth shut and quietly had a career year after Darrelle Revis went down. And Landry turned back into the hard-hitting safety that enticed the Redskins to draft him No. 6 overall in 2007.
The only thing that would have made things even better would have been a selection for Muhammad Wilkerson. It’s a season too early for the second-year player, anyway, considering his five sacks pale in comparison to the 16 ½ Pierre-Paul had in his second season to prompt his initial selection last year. Besides, Wilkerson has had just one sack in his last nine games, so that probably didn’t help.
But if he continues his development, bet that he’ll be on the list in 2013, though there won’t be a vacation in Hawaii as the league discontinues the game.
In the absence of eye-popping stats, it takes time for a player of Wilkerson’s abilities to make a reputation for himself. Snee can tell him all about that. He was relegated to alternate status in some of his best years before he made the active roster. This year, hardly his best as he started despite several injuries, he made it again because of his reputation as a solid player.
Pierre-Paul made it not because of his sacks — he has just 6 ½ sacks — but because of his overall play. Drawing double and sometimes triple teams now, he remained an all-around force even against the run, leading the team with 12 tackles behind the line.
Cruz is the most interesting case. He actively campaigned for a spot, going so far as to put up a YouTube video of himself catching a football dropped from an airplane. As media-savvy as that was, his 82 catches that ranks him 12th league wide and nine touchdowns probably would have allowed Team Cruz to save the airplane fuel.
Last year, he became the only player in franchise history to catch 80 passes for 1,000 yards with nine scores, and now he’s done it two years in a row.
It just shows you that even when things go bad, some can rise above the muck.
Give some well-deserved congrats in the comments…