AP All-Pro Team Includes 15 Newcomers - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

AP All-Pro Team Includes 15 Newcomers

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Want a juicy matchup between All-Pros? How about wide receivers Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald against cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Cortland Finnegan? They are four of the 15 first-time members of The Associated Press 2008 NFL All-Pro team announced Friday.

All of them did their speaking on the field this season. And they spoke volumes.

"No one really pays attention to the Texans, so that does make it a little bit tougher," Johnson said of making the squad. "At the same time, if you go out and perform well, good things happen. You have some guys that go out and market themselves and they do a real good job of doing that, but I'm not that guy. I'm not going to go out and say crazy things. I'm just going to go out and play football."

He played it so well that Johnson led the league in receptions with 115 and yards receiving (1,575) and had eight touchdowns.

Fitzgerald helped the Cardinals win their first division title since 1975, then get only the third playoff win in franchise history. He had 96 catches to lead the NFC, gaining 1,431 yards and scoring 12 times.

But if anyone could test their pass-catching prowess to the limit, it would be Tennessee's Finnegan and Oakland's Asomugha.

"It's a great feeling because this is my first time making first team," said Asomugha, who is about to become a free agent. "I get excited when I hear that stuff because of all that went into it. From my first three years to my second three years has been a complete 180. It's a completely different story, but it's all the work that went on in between that made it happen."

Finnegan made things happen in the tough Titans secondary, and now the 2006 seventh-round draft choice is a star.

"Wow. I don't know if you can put that into words," he said. "That's a goal guys want to obtain in their years of playing football. That's the best of the best. That's humbling to ever think you could be voted on for that. I didn't look at that as a goal this year."

Many of the other newcomers would say the same thing. But here they are, joining three-time NFL Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning and six-time All-Pro Ray Lewis as All-Pros. Ten of the 14 offensive players and five of the 13 on defense had never gotten the honor.

And there was room for one unanimous selection by a nationwide panel of 50 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the NFL: safety Ed Reed, Lewis' teammate in Baltimore.

"He has a tremendous feel for the game," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said of Reed, who made his third All-Pro squad. "Very, very intelligent player, studies it as well or better than anybody. And he's a highly disciplined player. He plays his position as well as anybody I've ever seen."

Reed certainly did that this year with nine interceptions, and he had two, including one returned for a touchdown, in a wild-card playoff win over Miami last weekend.

Reed was joined in the secondary by Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu, making his second All-Pro squad, and Finnegan and Asomugha.

Other first-timers on defense were Pittsburgh outside linebacker James Harrison, the AP Defensive Player of the Year; end Justin Tuck of the New York Giants; and inside linebacker Jon Beason of Carolina.

"To get the whole swath in one year, that's great," Harrison said.

The slew of new All-Pros on offense included running backs Michael Turner of Atlanta and Adrian Peterson of Minnesota; fullback Le'Ron McClain of Baltimore; tackles Michael Roos of Tennessee and Jordan Gross of Carolina; guard Chris Snee of the Giants; placekicker Stephen Gostkowski of New England; and kick returner Leon Washington of the New York Jets.

"The running game is going well so they have to pick someobody on our O-line," Gross reasoned. "I'll do it. It's just nice that overall the team is getting a lot of good things happening."

There were six repeaters from last year's team: Reed; Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware; defensive tackles Albert Haynesworth of Tennessee and Kevin Williams of Minnesota; defensive end Jared Allen of Minnesota, who was with the Chiefs in 2007; and Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson.

Manning made it for the fourth time, one behind John Unitas, who was the first-team All-Pro quarterback for the Baltimore Colts in 1958, '59, '64, '65 and '67. Manning also made it in 2003-05.

Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez made his fifth All-Pro team. Gonzalez ended his 12th season owning the triple crown of NFL career tight end records: receptions (916), yards receiving (10,940) and TDs (76).

"I wanted to show everybody that I could still play at a high level, that I could still be a leader," said Gonzalez, who certainly did that with 96 catches for 1,058 yards and 10 TDs for a 2-14 team.

Titans center Kevin Mawae was chosen for the third time. Punter Shane Lechler of Oakland made his fourth team.

In all, 16 AFC players and 11 from the NFC were honored this season. The Titans and Vikings led with four players each and Baltimore had three.

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