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A Pro Bowl Case


It will be hard for the Falcons to top last year's nine players invited to participate in the Pro Bowl. It was the franchise's most in history and it topped off a 13-3 season that saw the Falcons jump into the category with the best teams in the NFC.

Pro Bowl voting for the 2011 season is open and fans will begin to vote, their picks making up one-third of the voting, with the coaches and players rounding out the selection process. The NFL was the first professional sports league to offer online voting in 1995.

The breakdown of positions and number of players selected for each conference:

Running back Michael Turner leads the way in Pro Bowl consideration this season for the Falcons. As of Sunday night, Turner's 621 rushing yards is third in the NFL. He currently has six touchdowns on the season and is on pace to break last season's 12 touchdowns, a stat that helped him make the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career.

Turner has paced the Atlanta offense in the past two weeks, both wins for the franchise. In Week 6, he gained 139 rushing yards and added two touchdowns. In Week 7's victory over the Lions he gained 122 yards. On the season, Turner has four games of 100-plus rushing yards.

A look at every Falcons starters Pro Bowl considerations:

Matt Ryan - Quarterback

Operates an offense ranked sixth in the NFL with a third-down percentage of 46 percent. * Has two fourth-quarter comebacks this season. * On pace for over 4,000 yards passing and 21 touchdowns.

Ovie Mughelli - Fullback

Lead blocker in front of Turner's 621 rushing yards. * Leads all fullbacks in the NFL with two touchdown receptions.

Roddy White - Wide Receiver

Tied for third in the NFL with 39 catches. * Tied for third in the league with 29 first-down catches. * On pace for 970 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.

Julio Jones - Wide Receiver

Second among all rookies with 25 catches and 358 yards despite missing the past two games. * On pace for more than 1,000 yards receiving and 57 receptions.

Tony Gonzalez - Tight End

380 yards receiving is third in the league among tight ends. * Four touchdowns this season is tied for second among all tight ends. * Stands at second in the NFL with 25 catches for first downs.

Offensive Line: Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Joe Hawley, Todd McClure, Garrett Reynolds, Tyson Clabo

The offensive line has worked through turnover at multiple positions and continues to remain a line that blocks for one of the best rushing attacks, averaging 112.7 yards per game. * The line is ninth in the league with 16 rushing first downs. * Both Blalock and Reynolds started in all six games this season at guard, blocking for one of the league's best rushing attacks. * Clabo was a Pro Bowl starter at right tackle in 2010.

John Abraham - Defensive End

On pace for seven sacks this season. * Has six tackles for loss on the year. * Member of defensive line allowing a seventh-best 98.4 yards rushing per game.

Ray Edwards - Defensive End

Has two tackles for loss on the season. * Has recorded two sacks on the year, one pass defensed and 18 combined tackles.

Jonathan Babineaux - Defensive Tackle

Has three quarterback hits in four games played this season. * Despite missing a couple of games this season with a knee injury, has been a destructive force on the defensive line that doesn't show up in the stat book, drawing double-teams and allowing his teammates to get pressure on the quarterback.

Corey Peters - Defensive Tackle

Has two sacks on the season with four quarterback hits. * Has four tackles for loss and three passes defensed. * Could be regarded as the biggest up-and-comer on the Falcons' defense as he's having a monster year, especially in the clutch.

Stephen Nicholas - Linebacker

Nicholas has been impressive in his role as starter this season. * Has recorded two forced fumbles this season.

Sean Weatherspoon - Linebacker

Weatherspoon is one of the top linebackers in the league this year as he's been flying all over the field and been a constant threat for any opponent carrying the ball. * Third in the NFL with 60 tackles. * Has two sacks and three passes defensed on the season.

Curtis Lofton - Middle Linebacker

First among all middle linebackers in the league with 64 tackles. * One interception and four passes defensed this season. * Should be a lock to make the Pro Bowl, but isn't getting much attention nationally. Will definitely need the Atlanta votes to make the roster.

Brent Grimes - Cornerback

Has one interception and seven passes defensed this season. * Played in his first Pro Bowl last season. * Always seems to come through in the clutch with amazing athleticism.

Dunta Robinson - Cornerback

Has 22 tackles and two passes defensed on the season. * Robinson again hasn't gotten many looks from quarterbacks this season as he remains a constant big-play threat, in their eyes.

William Moore - Safety

Four passes defensed and one interception this season. * Has 34 tackles this season. * Perhaps the hardest hitter on the Falcons defense, the Mo-City Hammer has inspired a lot of "oohs" and "ahhs" with his play this season.

Thomas DeCoud - Safety

Three interceptions this year are tied for first among all safeties. All his interceptions this year have come in the end zone with the Falcons' backs against the wall. * Four passes defensed this season. * Has 37 tackles on the year.

Matt Bosher - Punter/Kickoff Specialist

His 11 punts inside the 20-yard line this season is tied for fifth in the NFL.

Matt Bryant - Kicker

One of five kickers in the NFL that has not missed a field goal this season. * Has one kick made from 50-plus yards. * Has converted all 17 point after attempts this season. * Currently holds a Falcons record for most consecutive kicks made, a record he set Sunday vs. Detroit. Bryant now has made 27 straight kicks dating back to last season.

Eric Weems - Returner

Has long kick and punt returns this season of 37 yards. * Hasn't gotten many chances on kick returns due to new rules governing where the ball is kicked from. * Returned a kick 104 yards for a touchdown against Detroit on Sunday, but was called back due to a penalty. * Played in his first Pro Bowl last year.

Joe Zelenka - Long Snapper

Year in and year out, one of the most consistent long snappers in the league. * His consistency has helped kicker Matt Bryant make 27 consecutive field goals, dating back to last year.

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