DE Jordan joins Brees, Graham, Grubbs, Evans as Saints Pro Bowlers
Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan readily admitted Friday afternoon that he’d rather “be freezing” in East Rutherford, N.J., for Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2 than heading to Honolulu for the 2014 Pro Bowl.
Well, Jordan’s being offered the trip to Hawaii anyway. He was among five Saints to be named to the NFL’s all-star game Friday night, and he was the only New Orleans player getting to go for the first time in his career.
The others were quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham, left guard Ben Grubbs and right guard Jahri Evans. This is Brees’ eighth Pro Bowl, Graham’s second, Grubbs’ second and Evans’ fifth.
Brees is second in the NFL with 4,781 passing yards and 35 touchdowns. He’s completed 68.2 percent of his passes and thrown just 12 interceptions despite being sacked a career-high 36 times. This is his seventh Pro Bowl as a Saint (tying a club record set by Hall of Fame tackle Willie Roaf) and his sixth straight, his team said.
Graham has three more TD grabs (15) than anyone else in the NFL, and he leads the Saints in catches (81) and receiving yards (1,144).
Jordan leads the Saints (10-5) with 12.5 sacks, fourth most in the NFL and second in the NFC.
Players were selected to the Pro Bowl without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and their peers. They will be divided into teams during a schoolyard-style draft on Jan. 22. The game will be on Jan. 26.
Bush ready to help
After rookie safety Kenny Vaccaro fractured his fibula in the Week 16 loss at Carolina, Rafael Bush said he’s ready to play free safety and for free safety Malcolm Jenkins to assume Vaccaro’s role of lining up all over the field on Sunday in certain situations against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“I’m used to playing (free safety), and I normally play (that position) on third downs,” said Bush, who’s missed the past three games with a high right ankle sprain but is probable for Sunday after fully practicing on Thursday and Friday. “So I’m excited.”
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan spoke highly of Bush on Friday, calling him a “good football player we’ve been missing.”
“We’re excited about having him back,” Ryan said. “He’s a good, ascending football player.”
Vaccaro was third on the team with 79 tackles. He intercepted one pass, broke up six others and got a sack. Two weeks ago, Ryan claimed Vaccaro was “the best safety in the league that does everything,” and on Friday the defensive coordinator said he’d task multiple players with performing all of the rookie’s jobs.
If Vaccaro didn’t have enough reasons to hate the Saints’ recent defeat in Carolina, he got another one Friday. The NFL fined him $15,750 for a horse-collar tackle on running back DeAngelo Williams.
It was Vaccaro’s second fine this year.
Meanwhile, 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks won his appeal of the $15,750 fine he was given for a hit on Brees in the Saints’ 23-20 win over San Francisco on Nov. 17, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area reported Friday.
Officials whistled Brooks for a blow to Brees’ head and neck, negating a sack and fumble recovery for the 49ers, who were leading 20-17 with a little more than three minutes left in the game. The Saints would keep possession and subsequently hit two field goals to triumph.
Nine Saints probable
Aside from Bush, after practicing fully Thursday and Friday, eight other Saints players listed on the injury report for the Bucs game are probable, the team said.
They include Brees (bruised right knee), Evans (knee), T Terron Armstead (shoulder) and WR Marques Colston (back).
As for the Bucs, they ruled out G Carl Nicks with a staph infection he’s been battling. DE Da’Quan Bowers (knee) was placed on injured reserve this week. LB Dekoda Watson (groin), S Mark Barron (hamstring) and Ka’Lial Glaud (knee) are questionable.