Cowboys have 7 Pro Bowl starters, 4 backups
IRVING, Texas -- How's this for respect: The Dallas Cowboys not only tied a franchise record with 11 Pro Bowl selections, one of them is a backup.
And there's a chance they might have a 12th guy headed to Hawaii. Or more.
Terrell Owens, Tony Romo and backup running back Marion Barber are some of the Dallas players picked by fans and rivals as the best in the NFC. The Cowboys have seven starters, four reserves -- and another four that coach Wade Phillips said are alternates. Among them is recently suspended Roy Williams, a Pro Bowler the last four years who could be invited to take the place of the late Sean Taylor, who is voted in as a starter.
There's no telling how this season will end, but it's already brought a franchise-best 12-1 start. Now 12-2 with two games left, Dallas is taking aim at the franchise record of 13 wins in a season.
"It's great and we're all excited about being voted into the Pro Bowl, but there's a bigger goal out there for us," tight end Jason Witten said.
The starters are Owens, Witten and three offensive linemen: left tackle Flozell Adams, center Andre Gurode and right guard Leonard Davis. Linebacker DeMarcus Ware and rookie kicker Nick Folk also will start for the NFC.
Coach Wade Phillips had the pleasure of announcing the names during a team meeting. The biggest cheers were for the first-time honorees, like Davis -- who justified his $16 million signing bonus. Folk, Barber, Newman and Hamlin are first-timers, too.
"I tried to put as much drama in, but you didn't have to," Phillips said. "The team was excited about it."
Phillips said it was the kind of pick-me-up the club needed following a 10-6 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, a game in which the seven Pro Bowlers on offense failed to score a touchdown.
"We got our juices flowing again," Phillips said. "I got a real feeling that we got back as a team, (got) over losing the game. Boom! We're excited about our team, our players, man, were excited for each other. You know, you get that feeling -- that's the team part of it, even though it's individuals making it."
Ellis has a career-best 11½ sacks, more than Ware and more than any other linebacker in the NFC. He calls this his best season and it's hard to argue considering he is coming off a torn Achilles' tendon that kept him out of the first three games. The 10-year veteran has never made the Pro Bowl, but has been a team leader much of his tenure.
"As many years as I've been here and people say, `You should've made the Pro Bowl,' so I'm not too disappointed," Ellis said. "Who knows why that stuff works out the way that it does?"
Phillips said Barber's leaguewide honor will not change the team's lineup. Barber will still back up Julius Jones.
"I think he's excited where he is," Phillips said. "It says a great deal about him. But it says more about how he plays once he gets in the game and gets an opportunity to play."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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