The past two NFL comeback players of the year were easy choices for the Pro Bowl.
Mike Williams' comeback with the Seattle Seahawks last season was more shocking because Williams had failed so famously earlier in his career. He did not come back so much as he showed up. Williams' 65-catch, 751-yard production with Seattle exceeded his career totals since entering the NFL as the 10th player chosen in the 2005 NFL draft.
It was a great season for someone who had not caught a regular-season pass since 2007, but it was not a great season by NFL standards -- or by Williams' standards.
"The first go-around, it was about getting back and showing up and making up," Williams said during a recent interview. "Now, it is about taking it to another level."
Williams signed a three-year extension in January that could pay him more than $3.5 million in 2011. Bypassing free agency for a solid-but-unspectacular contract showed Williams was serious about needing to prove more.
"The reality is, it is a wonderful story, but when you talk football, I am still looking at a 60-catch, 700-yard season," he said. "You get past the Oprah part of it, the feel-good part of it, you are looking at a player who has to do better."
The lockout has prevented Williams and other players from preparing the way they normally might. Williams does have video showing every one of his plays from last season -- the good, the bad and the ugly. There were spectacular grabs against Arizona in particular, but also dropped balls, lapses in concentration and situations when he could have put his size to better use in creating a more inviting target.
"There were a lot of plays I left out there that could have made a good season great," Williams said. "People are caught up in the story. I was never caught up in the story. I see a top No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in the league every year in Fitz (Larry Fitzgerald). I have to make my own noise."