The Baltimore Ravens had seven players selected to the 2011 Pro Bowl, good for second most in the NFL. The New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers each had eight players named to the NFL’s version of the All-Star game, while the Ravens tied the Green Bay Packers with seven apiece.
Six of those Ravens selected were named starters; Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata from the defense, and Ray Rice and Vonta Leach from the other side of the ball. Guard Marshal Yanda will be going to Hawaii as a back up.
Yanda was the only first-timer among the Ravens. It’s high time the former Iowa Hawkeye was recognized; since returning from tearing all three major ligaments in his knee during the 2008 season, Yanda has been one of the NFL’s top offensive linemen. He was forced to play tackle for B’More in 2010, but was able to return to his more natural position of guard here in 2011 – and he has been spectacular. Other than getting beat once Sunday for a sack, he has been nearly perfect in pass protection, and he has been a bulldozer opening holes in the running game.
It’s a bit bittersweet for Yanda, as he receives the honor at a time when his status for the Ravens’ critical Week 17 match up in Cincinnati is very much up in the air. Yanda is dealing with contusions to both his rib area and thigh, and could be held out this week.
As for the other Ravens, they will all be making at least their second trip to the Pro Bowl. Lewis leads the way, being selected to the game for the 13th time, followed by Reed (8th), Suggs (5th, first back-to-back), Ngata (3rd), Rice (2nd) and Leach (2nd).
The biggest snub on this list is obviously cornerback Lardarius Webb. Webb has been the team’s best cornerback in 2011, and can hold his own with pretty much anybody in the AFC. Webb, though, will need to keep up this level of play for at least two consecutive seasons before people around the league start to notice enough to vote him to the Pro Bowl (unfortunately, the image most still have of him is from last year’s playoff in Pittsburgh, when he got beat on 3rd-and-18.)
Five Ravens were also selected as alternates to the game: Ben Grubbs (first alternate), Brendan Ayanbadejo (2nd), Joe Flacco (3rd), Bernard Pollard (3rd), and Michael Oher (4th).
While it’s a nice honor to be named an NFL All-Star, Suggs summed up the feelings of Ravens players and fans alike when he said, upon hearing the news “I have no intentions of playing in the Pro Bowl… I plan on being in practice with my teammates…getting ready for the Super Bowl.”