With a little less than three weeks remaining in Pro Bowl fan voting, Broncos fans are making their voices heard.
Five Broncos are among the top five vote-getters at their respective positions in the AFC — cornerback Champ Bailey, punter Britton Colquitt, safety Brian Dawkins, linebacker Von Miller and quarterback Tim Tebow.
Four of those five players were among the top five in mid-November, and Bailey has since joined that list.
It would mark the first Pro Bowl selection for Colquitt, Miller and Tebow, the ninth trip for Dawkins and the 11th for Bailey.
Voting is still open, and will end on Dec. 19 at the conclusion of the Monday Night Football matchup between the Steelers and 49ers.
The teams will be announced at 5 p.m. MST on a special NFL Total Access 2012 Pro Bowl Selection Show on NFL Network.
The game will be played on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012.
PREPARING FOR PONDER
In Minnesota, Christian Ponder stepped in under center in Week 7 and has led the Vikings to one of their two wins on the season.
During that stretch, the rookie signal caller has thrown for 1,042 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions, running for 132 yards and fumbling three times.
Dawkins said he has been impressed with what the young quarterback has been able to do.
“He’s doing a good job from what I can see,” Dawkins said. “They’ve lost some close games, and they’ve been in the games. He’s absolutely mobile. You can kind of see him pull away from guys when he tucks the ball and decides to run with it. Then, he has the mobility to get outside the pocket and still put the ball on the money down the field. He’s doing some good things that I can see on film.”
Two weeks ago in a close loss against Oakland, Ponder ran for 71 yards in addition to his 211 yards passing. Defensive Coordinator Dennis Allen said that double-threat can cause problems for a defense.
“I think he’s athletic, obviously,” Allen said. “He can really scramble around, extend the play, and that’s something we have to really contend with. I think he really throws the ball pretty well. I’ve been really impressed with this guy. I think he’s going to be an exceptional quarterback.”
BATTLE IN THE TRENCHES
One of the biggest challenges for the Broncos offense on Sunday will be contending with defensive end Jared Allen.
The three-time Pro Bowler ranks second in the NFL with 13.5 sacks — three ahead of the Broncos’ rookie pass-rusher, Von Miller.
Allen typically lines up on the right side of the defense, meaning he will match up with left tackle Ryan Clady, who Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy said will be up for the challenge.
“We rely on him to do it all,” McCoy said of the 2009 Pro Bowler. “I’ve got no fear at all putting him one-on-one against the best guy we play each week. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Ryan Clady, as a staff we do, as an organization (we do). He’s an outstanding left tackle, and he’s exactly what you want.”
Still, the team won’t necessarily leave Clady on an island.
“There are plenty of times where we’re going to help him, because you want to do that,” he continued. “You want that guy to know that there is going to be a presence, [that] he’s going to be chipped, or that somebody’s going to be there.”
“Then again, I have a lot of confidence in Ryan to say, ‘Hey, if there are certain plays I need you, we’re going to count on you. We’ll single you up,’ and I have no questions at all that he’s going to win.”
As for McCoy, he’s excited to watch the matchup unfold.
“It’s going to be a great game for both of them,” he said. “They’re both outstanding players, Pro Bowl-caliber players. They play extremely hard every play. It’ll be a battle every play.”
Below are photos from Thursday’s practice, which was moved indoors due to plenty of snowfall in Denver.