BEREA — The Browns were happy to get their first Pro Bowl recognition in six years — kick returner Joshua Cribbs and receiver Braylon Edwards — but felt left tackle Joe Thomas and left guard Eric Steinbach deserved to go to Hawaii, too.
“I was surprised that Steinbach or Joe Thomas didn’t make it,” running back Jamal Lewis said Wednesday. “Those guys are a great duo on that left side.”
Steinbach and Thomas were named first alternates for the AFC squad and would be asked to go if the guys ahead of them get injured or bow out. Steinbach finished behind Pittsburgh’s Alan Faneca (starter), New England’s Logan Mankins (starter) and San Diego’s Kris Dielman (reserve). Thomas follows New England’s Matt Light (starter), Buffalo’s Jason Peters (starter) and Baltimore’s Jonathan Ogden (reserve).
“It’s pretty cool,” Thomas said. “Coming in as a rookie you don’t have too many expectations. Rookie linemen don’t really ever get any votes.
“It would have been nice for Eric to go because I think he deserves it. But guys get that reputation and once they get there, it seems like they go every year.”
Reputation plays a part in Pro Bowl voting at every position, but perhaps none more than across the offensive line, where there aren’t statistics to compare. Ogden, despite being slowed by injuries this year, was voted in for the 11th time.
“One of my goals coming in was to go to the Pro Bowl and be a Hall of Famer,” Thomas said. “Once you gain that reputation, those kinds of things happen.”
Voting is split into thirds among fans, players and coaches. Steinbach led after the fan voting, but said his disappointment of not making the Pro Bowl was overshadowed by the team’s success.
“It’s a personal goal that I think everyone should have,” he said. “That Pro Bowl stuff is for when the season’s all over with. When everyone’s down there, it might be, ‘Well, it’d be nice to be down there.’ But we have a lot more going on right now than Pro Bowl stuff.”
The Browns line has allowed just 17 sacks, which is tied for second-fewest in the league. It’s also led the way for Lewis to rush for 1,084 yards.
“I think they could’ve been voted in,” coach Romeo Crennel said of Thomas and Steinbach. “I just hope they keep playing well for us. Hopefully they’ll be rewarded at some point.
“The biggest reward that they could have is to help us have a winning season, help us make the playoffs and go as far as we can go.”
Tight end Kellen Winslow was also a first alternate for the Pro Bowl, finishing behind San Diego’s Antonio Gates and Kansas City’s Tony Gonzalez.
“I kind of knew that was going to happen,” Winslow said. “When you have a guy like Tony Gonzalez, a Hall of Famer, and Antonio Gates, a future Hall of Famer. I’m sure my time will come, but it’s just not my time yet.
“People don’t know what I’ve been through just to come back on the field and people don’t really care, so I just have to keep on pushing and being consistent and my time will come.”
Winslow has 71 catches for 971 yards and five touchdowns. The yards are tied with Gonzalez for most by an AFC tight end, and the receptions are second behind Gonzalez’s 82.
Bengals receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh have been accused in reports of yelling at quarterback Carson Palmer and trying to run the team, but Palmer denied that.
“No, because it hasn’t happened,” Palmer said. “I was talking to both of those guys today and I don’t know who made up the rumor that they are yelling at everybody and yelling at me and running the team, but it’s just not true.”
Coach Marvin Lewis also dismissed the accusations.
“Anybody would like to have those guys on your side,” he said.
Houshmandzadeh was voted to his first Pro Bowl with 101 catches, 1,028 yards and 11 touchdowns.
ESPN’s profile of quarterback Derek Anderson on Sunday’s pregame show featured an interview with Sara Jean Underwood. She’s a fellow native of Scappoose, Ore., a friend of Anderson’s since high school and just happened to be Playmate of the Year in 2007.
“My wife and her were friends growing up,” Anderson said. “When we started dating our groups started hanging out together and doing more fun things.”
Are his teammates looking to be fixed up?
“I got a few comments about that,” he said. “She’s got a boyfriend, though, as far as I know.”
Anderson’s wife wasn’t shown in the profile.
“My wife doesn’t really care,” he said. “Her friends were, ‘That’s garbage, she talked more than you got in there.’ My wife’s like, ‘Whatever.’”
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