Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cameron Wake is Dolphins' lone Pro Bowl selection

As expected, Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake was selected to the AFC's 2013 Pro Bowl roster, earning his second career selection after posting 15 sacks and three forced fumbles with one game left to play in the regular season.

Wake's story continues to be an incredible one, going from an undrafted free agent from Penn State in 2005 to a star in the CFL to a two-time Pro Bowler with the Dolphins. Wake was a huge bargain on the four-year, $4.9 million contract he signed with Miami in 2009 and now has 43 sacks in 61 career games, placing him fifth on the team's all-time list and within striking distance of second place (Jeff Cross, 59.5).

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Unfortunately, Wake will be traveling from Miami to Honolulu solo as he was the only Dolphins player voted to this year's squad. The chance remains that additional players could be added as substitutes or alternates.

Punter Brandon Fields did not make the Pro Bowl despite winning the fan vote (which makes up one third of the voting), while center Mike Pouncey, safety Reshad Jones and return specialist Marcus Thigpen failed to earn their first selections as well.

Despite taking a backseat to Fields in both gross and net average (Fields leads the AFC in gross average), Colquitt has a strong argument for his selection with 17 downed punts and 43 punts inside the 20 (both lead AFC).

The real snubs here are Pouncey and Jones, who are absolutely deserving of selections but lose out in a couple of popularity contests. Pouncey misses out in the selection to twin brother Maurkice Pouncey of the Steelers and Chris Myers of the Texans, despite having a better season than either of them.

Easily one of the best draft picks of the Jeff Ireland era, 2010 fifth-rounder Jones is coming off a Week 16 performance that saw him rack up two fumble recoveries and an interception, bringing his 2012 stat line to an impressive 86 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and four interceptions.

And not only is it a joke that Jones was snubbed, but it's even more ridiculous that he was snubbed by two guys (the Chiefs' Eric Berry and the Jets' LaRon Landry) that have been mediocre at best this season. There are a few guys that should be in the discussion with Jones (namely Eric Weddle and Jairus Byrd) but Jones should be right near the top of the list and Berry/Landry have no business near it.

Finally, rookie returner Marcus Thigpen, who followed Wake's path from the CFL to Miami this season, lost out to the Ravens' Jacoby Jones for a Pro Bowl nod. Thigpen tied for second in the league behind Jones in kickoff return average (min. 30 returns) at 28.5 yards and third in the NFL in punt return average (min. 28 returns) at 12.1 yards. Thigpen was one of only three players in the NFL this season with returned touchdowns on a kickoff and a punt, though Jones as the only player in the league with three total return touchdowns.

While the 7-8 Dolphins certainly have more to worry about that individual accolades, sending only player to the Pro Bowl in 2012 is a bit disappointing. Even the 2-13 Chiefs sent a whopping five players to Honolulu this season and there are certainly some strong cases that Wake should be accompanied by more than one teammate.

Last season, the Dolphins sent offensive tackle Jake Long as a starter and wide receiver Brandon Marshall as a reserve, while also adding defensive tackle Paul Soliai as an alternate. Long, who was selected to the Pro Bowl each of his first four seasons, concluded a down 2012 season by landing on injured reserve with a triceps injury in early December.