While the Patriots put six players on the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl rosters -- second only to the Falcons' seven -- one has to wonder: could it have been even more?
New England will be represented by starters QB Tom Brady, OG Logan Mankins and DL Vince Wilfork, as well as reserves LB Jerod Mayo, CB Devin McCourty and FS Brandon Meriweather, there's likely a case to be made that safety Pat Chung and rookie TE Rob Gronkowski could have been selected as well.
Chung is second on the team with 94 tackles and three interceptions, and when you watch a Patriots game it doesn't take long to immediately see his impact. Gronkowski is fourth on the team with just 36 receptions, but he leads the team with nine receiving touchdowns as a favorite target of Brady's in the red zone. His nine scores is tied for second in the AFC among tight ends, behind San Diego's Antonio Gates (of course). But he's not complaining:
Congrats to fellow rookie @DMcCourty32 and our other players on making the pro bowl!
While arguing over who did and did not get snubbed can go on for days, everyone seems to agree on one thing: no one's quite sure how Brandon Meriweather made the Pro Bowl. Pats Pulpit already called it the "biggest surprise" of the Pats' selections, and the Globe's Greg Bedard has weighed in, too:
OK, we've got no clue on this one so we're open to suggestions for how this happened. Haven't talked to one personnel person with something good to say about him and his own teammates know he's been a liability out there at time. Meriweather has also been benched. His talent has never been questioned, but he can lack focus and good study habits. His spot should have gone to Eric Weddle of the Chargers or Michael Huff of the Raiders.