Ogden is Ravens' only Pro Bowl pick

OWINGS MILLS -- In yet another insulting reminder of their dismal season, the Baltimore Ravens were nearly shut out of the Pro Bowl balloting as offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden was their lone selection.

Although Ogden made the annual all-star game for the ninth consecutive year, this is the first time in Ravens history that only one player is assured of going to Hawaii for anything other than a vacation.

Ogden was subdued about being picked, perking up only slightly when teammates clapped and chanted his name in the locker room and while discussing his plans to visit Kauai, the only Hawaiian island he hasn't seen.

"It's kind of like having a good dessert, but after a crappy meal," said Ogden, adding that he was surprised that tight end Todd Heap and return specialist B.J. Sams weren't selected. "You'll feel a little better, but the steak was bad. Hopefully next year, we'll get a little bit of both. .. I know sometimes linemen get by on reputations, but I think I had a decent year. I'm thankful that I was able to go one more time."

While Heap and safety Ed Reed were named first alternates, they'll only participate in the game if someone gets injured.

Reed missed six games with a high-ankle sprain and hasn't intercepted a pass one year after picking off a franchise-record nine passes and being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The Ravens' 5-9 record, which ties them for last place in the AFC North, probably contributed heavily to their major decline in accolades.

Two years ago when the Ravens won the AFC North title, eight players were named to the Pro Bowl. Last year when they finished 9-7, linebacker Ray Lewis, Reed, cornerback Chris McAlister, Ogden and linebacker Terrell Suggs were selected.

Perhaps the most notable Pro Bowl snubs in Baltimore were Heap and versatile outside linebacker Adalius Thomas.

Lining up everywhere from safety, linebacker, defensive end and defensive tackle, Thomas registered 90 tackles, a team-high seven sacks, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.

"I'm not going to slit my wrists," Thomas said. "I'm not walking around with my head down. You try to take it with a grain of salt. You take it with you to the offseason."

Thomas' exclusion did anger teammates who thought that the 6-foot-2, 270-pounder's rare athleticism and all-over-the-field style should have been recognized.

"This guy does everything, How can you ignore that?" said Deion Sanders, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection. "It should be straight players having all the votes. It really should."

Added Sams: "AD got robbed. He definitely deserved to go."

Pro Bowl voting is divided equally between fans, players and coaches.

Meanwhile, Heap posted a career-high with 69 receptions and tied a career-best with six touchdowns.

However that production, including 803 yards, wasn't enough to warrant a Pro Bowl appearance in the ultra-competitive AFC tight end realm. Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez and San Diego's Antonio Gates edged out Heap.

"It's disappointing, but you don't base your entire season on that," said Heap, who was named to the Pro Bowl in 2002 and 2003. "I had my best season yet as a pro. I'm glad that I was able to get better and improve as a player."

Both Thomas and Heap turned in likely their most notable performances during Monday night's 48-3 win over the Green Bay Packers after balloting had already been completed.

Thomas returned a fumble for a touchdown and was praised throughout the game by influential television analyst John Madden. Heap tied a career-high with nine catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns and became the Ravens' all-time leader in receiving yardage.

When asked if he was surprised that Baltimore's Pro Bowl selections dwindled, Heap echoed the reality that a poor record draws the wrong kind of attention from voters.

"We've got a lot of guys with the talent, but a lot has to do with where we are as a team, our record and not meeting expectations as a group," Heap said. "Usually when you have Pro Bowlers on your team, it's because you have a good team and you're successful. Just because we weren't as successful this year doesn't mean the talent wasn't there."


In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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