Barry Wilner, ASSOCIATED PRESS
NEW YORK (AP) — J.J. Watt found a unique way to make the 2014 Associated Press NFL All-Pro team announced Friday.
Houston’s Watt was listed on all 50 ballots by a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league, with 45 of the votes for defensive end and the other five for defensive tackle. So he actually was a first-team end and a second-team tackle in gaining his third straight selection.
“Everybody always says you try and make it so the other team can’t game plan you because they don’t know where you’re coming from,” Watt said. “I mean, half the time I have no clue where I’m coming from, so it makes it pretty tough for the other people, I think, and that’s the goal.”
No such confusion for New England’s Rob Gronkowski as the other unanimous pick. He grabbed all the votes for tight end.
“He’s, I think, when you say a kid playing the game, that’s him,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. “He don’t care about anything, stats, if we’re up or down, he’s playing one way. He’s playing hard and you can tell he’s just having fun with his friends on the field.”
Dallas led all teams with four All-Pros, including guard Zack Martin, the only rookie on the squad. League rushing leader DeMarco Murray, tackle Tyron Smith and wide receiver Dez Bryant also made it.
“I wasn’t really coming in this year expecting to do this, but it’s been a fun season,” said Martin, a first-round draftee from Notre Dame who has been a major cog in the Cowboys’ superb running attack.
Making their first All-Pro teams were all four Cowboys, plus Seattle inside linebacker Bobby Wagner; Buffalo DE Mario Williams and DT Marcell Dareus; Kansas City outside LB Justin Houston; Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown and RB Le’Veon Bell; Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda; Green Bay fullback John Kuhn; Cincinnati kick returner Adam Jones; and Indianapolis punter Pat McAfee.
Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri joined McAfee.
“It’s pretty awesome,” McAfee said. “When we both signed back here (in March), that was the plan — to be the two best specialists in the league. I’m not sure I made it, but he certainly did.”
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made it for the second time; he also was the All-Pro QB in 2011.
Brown was next closest to sweeping the panel, earning 49 votes. Murray drew 48 and Houston 47.
“When you step into a stadium he’s a known issue, but still he performs,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said of Brown. “We could talk about some of the same things about guys like J.J. Watt. We knew what he was capable of when we were getting ready to play him, but it still doesn’t stop the storm from coming.”
Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas earned his fifth All-Pro spot, the most of anyone on the current team. Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis got his fourth All-Pro berth.
Seattle and Pittsburgh each had three All-Pros. There were 16 AFC players and 11 from the NFC.
The Seahawks were all defensive players: Wagner, cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas.
“I’m on such a great defense that sometimes there are guys that get overlooked and unfortunately I was one of them,” said Wagner, who missed five games with injuries in his third pro season. “But I think all the things that has happened this year as far as the awards and the recognition and stuff like that, it means so much more to me this year because everything that I went through this year.”
Repeaters from 2013 were Watt, Thomas, Detroit DT Ndamukong Suh, Carolina inside linebacker Luke Kuechly, Sherman and Thomas.
AP Sports Writers Will Graves, Tim Booth, Schuyler Dixon, Kristie Rieken and Howard Ulman contributed to this report.
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