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Prelude to an MVP? Aaron Rodgers named first-team All-Pro, 2 more Packers to make first team

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Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 366 of 531 passes (68.9%) for 4,115 yards with 37 touchdowns and four interceptions this season.

GREEN BAY — Aaron Rodgers was a 4-year-old San Francisco 49ers fan the last time a quarterback was named first-team All-Pro by The Associated Press and lost the NFL MVP award outright to another quarterback.

So unless the Green Bay Packers quarterback has the same thing happen to him as happened to one of his childhood idols, Joe Montana, in 1987, Rodgers will be receiving his fourth NFL MVP award at the annual NFL Honors event on Feb. 12, the eve of Super Bowl LVI.

Check out some of the top performances from the Green Bay Packers' 37-30 loss to the Detroit Lions in their regular-season finale Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, at Ford Field in Detroit.

Rodgers received 34 votes to earn the first-team nod over Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who got the other 16 votes from the 50-member national media panel assembled by the AP. That same 50-person panel also votes on the NFL’s other official awards, including MVP.

Rodgers was joined on the first team by wide receiver Davante Adams, who earned his second straight first-team selection and was one of five players who were unanimous 50-vote picks; and inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, who went from unemployed in early June to getting the third-most votes at linebacker and earning a spot on a team that is based upon a 4-3 scheme.

Late in the regular season, Rodgers said a fourth MVP, to go with the awards he won in 2011, 2014 and 2020, would mean more to him than the previous three. In all three of those years, Rodgers was the first-team All-Pro pick at quarterback and the MVP.

“Yes, 100% it would. This has been one of my favorite years of football,” Rodgers said. “It’s hard to think of a year that I’ve enjoyed more than this one, even with all the adversity.

“I’ve told the guys this a few times when I’ve had the opportunity to speak to them pregame, one of the greatest satisfactions in life is being held to a standard by your teammates and living up to that standard. I know when I take the field, that there’s a standard those guys hold me to and there’s an expectation of performance. And to be able to go out there and perform week after week — the way that I want to perform — has been extremely meaningful to me.”

Rodgers finished regular-season play having completed 366 of 531 passes (68.9%) for 4,115 yards with 37 touchdowns, four interceptions and 30 sacks for an NFL-best 111.9 passer rating. If he does win the award for a second straight year, he will become only the second player to win more than three MVPs, with only Peyton Manning (five) ahead of him.

The only other times the first-team All-Pro quarterback has seen another quarterback win the NFL MVP were in 1987, when Montana lost out to Denver’s John Elway, and 2003, when Manning shared the award with Tennessee’s Steve McNair.

“I’m thankful for this opportunity to still be starting here in Green Bay and to lead this team and to play at a high level, and to continue to grow, through the adversity, through the ups and downs, the frustrations and the successes and the triumphs,” Rodgers said. “I’ve really enjoyed this season, and I would definitely love to finish out the year strong and win my fourth.”

Adams finished regular-season play with franchise single-season records for receptions (123, second in the NFL behind the Los Angeles Rams’ Cooper Kupp) and receiving yards (1,553, third behind Kupp and Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson). Adams and Kupp were both unanimous first-team picks, with Jefferson and the 49ers’ Deebo Samuel making the second team.

“Like I say every single time I talk about my stats, it’s always just holding myself to a certain standard to be able to come out here and do my thing to ultimately to win the football game,” Adams said. “We’ve been able to win a lot of games this year. If I continue to rack them up and do my part, it puts us in a really good position. That’s what makes me feel best about going out and being able to get a record or have a successful game.”

Campbell, who joined the team on a one-year, $2 million deal during the team’s June mandatory minicamp, has been a godsend at a position that for years has been the defense’s Achilles’ heel. Despite missing the regular-season finale with an elbow injury, he finished the year with a career-high and team-leading 146 tackles, even though he wasn’t chosen for the Pro Bowl.

“He’s been everything that we would want and a little bit more,” inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti said of Campbell. “He is a professional, he’s a really good player, he’s a really good dude. He makes my life easier and everybody around him, their lives easier, because he’s here. I can’t say enough good things about him.”

Taylor, T.J. Watt unanimous picks

Colts running back Jonathan Taylor and Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt — both former University of Wisconsin athletes — were among five players named unanimous choices for The Associated Press 2021 NFL All-Pro Team.

Joining Taylor and Watt in receiving votes Friday from all 50 members of a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league are Adams, Rams receiver Cooper Kupp and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

While Donald is a perennial pick — the three-time Defensive Player of the Year makes the team for the seventh time in his eight pro seasons — Watt is on it for a third time. He tied the NFL record for sacks with 22½. Adams makes it for the second time, and the other two are newcomers as All-Pros. Kupp led the NFL in receptions (145), yards receiving (1,947) and TD catches (16). Taylor was the top rusher by a landslide with 1,811 yards and scored 18 touchdowns on the ground, two as a receiver.

“Obviously, it’s an honor to be recognized, and it wouldn’t be possible without my coaches and incredible teammates, but the awards and accolades aren’t what drives me,” said Watt, whose Steelers play at Kansas City on Sunday. “It’s competing with and for them, this franchise, and this city, that drives me. My coaches and teammates are the people that put me in a position to make splash, help us win, and this recognition honestly doesn’t come without them.”

Interviews on tap

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was scheduled to kick off his battery of head-coaching interviews with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday, following the Packers’ final practice of their playoff bye week, with interviews with the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos slated for Saturday.

Another of coach Matt LaFleur’s trusted offensive assistants, quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy, is also set to interview with the Broncos.

Having gone through the interview process a year ago when he was up for the Atlanta Falcons job that went to ex-Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith — Hackett called that experience “a shock and a blur” — he feels better prepared this time around.

“To be able to have all that preparation work that I had done for Atlanta, now (I can) re-evaluate everything, have the nuts and bolts of it, the foundation of it done and being able to tweak it and feel more comfortable in what you’re saying and what you believe in,” Hackett said. “You’re talking to people, it’s not really as much Xs and Os as people would think. It’s more just about the kind of the person you are, how you would lead the team, how you would handle the team and it’s been a great experience here because how we do it here is how I want to do it. So it’s kind of been on-the-job training since I got here with Matt.”


AP 2021 NFL All-Pro balloting as selected by a national panel of 50 media members:

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, 34; Tom Brady, Tampa Bay, 16.

Running Back

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis, 50.

Tight End

Mark Andrews, Baltimore, 41; Travis Kelce, Kansas City, 9.

Wide Receiver

Davante Adams, Green Bay, 50; Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams, 50; Deebo Samuel, San Francisco, 21; Justin Jefferson, Minnesota, 20; Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati, 9.

Left Tackle

Trent Williams, San Francisco, 46; Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers, 2; Orlando Brown Jr., Kansas City, 1; Tyron Smith, Dallas, 1.

Right Tackle

Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay, 37; Lane Johnson, Philadelphia, 10; Brian O'Neill, Minnesota, 3.

Left Guard

Joel Bitonio, Cleveland, 28; Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis, 13; Joe Thuney, Kansas City, 6; Ali Marpet, Tampa Bay, 2; Rodger Saffold, Tennessee, 1.

Right Guard

Zack Martin, Dallas, 46; Wyatt Teller, Cleveland, 2; Shaq Mason, New England, 1; Brandon Scherff, Washington, 1.

Center

Jason Kelce, Philadelphia, 21; Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers, 11; Creed Humphrey, Kansas City, 10; Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay, 5; Ryan Kelly, Indianapolis, 3.

DEFENSE

Edge Rushers

T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh, 50; Myles Garrett, Cleveland, 29; Robert Quinn, Chicago, 9; Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas, 6; Nick Bosa, San Francisco, 5; Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers, 1.

Interior Linemen

Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams, 50; Cam Heyward, Pittsburgh, 19; Chris Jones, Kansas City, 10; Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee, 10; DeForest Buckner, Indianapolis, 5; Kenny Clark, Green Bay, 2; Vita Vea, Tampa Bay, 2; Jonathan Allen, Washington, 2.

Linebackers

Micah Parsons, Dallas, 46; Darius Leonard, Indianapolis, 44; De'Vondre Campbell, Green Bay, 18; Demario Davis, New Orleans, 10; Roquan Smith, Chicago, 10; Bobby Wagner, Seattle, 7; Lavonte David, Tampa Bay, 3; Matthew Judon, New England, 3; Denzel Perryman, Las Vegas, 2; Foye Oluokun, Atlanta, 2; C.J. Mosley, New York Jets, 1; Jordyn Brooks, Seattle, 1; Devin White, Tampa Bay, 1; Matt Milano, Buffalo, 1; Tremaine Edmunds, Buffalo, 1.

Cornerbacks

Trevon Diggs, Dallas, 33; Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams, 32; J.C. Jackson, New England, 25; A.J. Terrell, Atlanta, 8; Darius Slay, Philadelphia, 1; Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans, 1.

Safeties

Kevin Byard, Tennessee, 41; Jordan Poyer, Buffalo, 12; Budda Baker, Arizona, 10; Justin Simmons, Denver, 10; Micah Hyde, Buffalo, 10; Derwin James, Los Angeles Chargers, 5; Quandre Diggs, Seattle, 3; Marcus Williams, New Orleans, 3; Adrian Phillips, New England, 2; Antoine Winfield Jr., Tampa Bay, 1; Minkah Fitzpatrick, Pittsburgh, 1; Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City, 1; Harrison Smith, Minnesota, 1.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Placekicker

Justin Tucker, Baltimore, 40; Daniel Carlson, Las Vegas, 8; Nick Folk, New England, 1; Matt Gay, Los Angeles Rams, 1.

Punter

AJ Cole, Las Vegas, 21; Bryan Anger, Dallas 18; Michael Dickson, Seattle, 5; Logan Cooke, Jacksonville, 3; Sam Martin, Denver, 1; Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles Rams, 1; Cameron Johnson, Houston, 1.

Kick Returner

Braxton Berrios, New York Jets, 27; Andre Roberts, Los Angeles Chargers, 13; Kene Nwangwu, Minnesota, 7; Isaiah McKenzie, Buffalo, 1; Jakeem Grant, Chicago, 1; Devin Duvernay, Baltimore, 1.

Punt Returner

Devin Duvernay, Baltimore, 28; Jakeem Grant, Chicago, 20; Braxton Berrios, New York Jets, 2.

x-Special Teamer

J.T. Gray, New Orleans, 18; Matthew Slater, New England, 10; Ashton Dulin, Indianapolis, 10; Miles Killebrew, Pittsburgh, 3; Matt Adams, Indianapolis, 3; Frankie Luvu, Carolina, 2; E.J. Speed, Indianapolis, 1; Nick Bellore, Seattle 1; Derek Watt, Pittsburgh, 1.

y-Long Snapper

Luke Rhodes, Indianapolis, 22; Josh Harris, Atlanta, 12; Morgan Cox, Tennessee, 4; Trent Sieg, Las Vegas, 4; Nick Moore, Baltimore, 3; Joe Cardona, New England, 3.

x-one voter did not select a special teamer.

y-two voters did not select long snappers.

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