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Johnson, Williams to start in 2009 Pro Bowl

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Mario Williams and Andre Johnson will start for the AFC squad in the 2009 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii.

Mario Williams can finally break out that hula dance again that he did against the Denver Broncos last season.


Williams and wide receiver Andre Johnson are headed to Honolulu in February as starters for the AFC in the 2009 Pro Bowl.

"It feels great to finally get in there and see what it's like," said Williams, left off the Pro Bowl roster last season despite recording 14 sacks. "It's just an honor right now, a lot of excitement. I'm just glad I was chosen."


Johnson, who leads the NFL with 103 receptions for 1,408 yards, has been there twice before. Williams, who has a team-high 11 sacks this season, will make his Pro Bowl debut this February in the first-ever NFL all-star game featuring two Texans as starters.

"Every time I've been, I've never had a teammate over there," Johnson said. "It feels kind of bad when you get introduced at the start of the game when they announce the starters and everyone else has teammates and you're the only one standing up there on the podium. I finally have someone to stand up there with me, so I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

In 2006, Williams was booed by fans who wanted Reggie Bush or Vince Young with the first overall pick of that year's draft. Perhaps even harsher was the ensuing criticism from both local and national media, with many calling the Texans' selection of Williams one of the worst blunders in sports history.

Two-and-a-half years later, did Williams' first Pro Bowl invitation give him at least a small feeling of redemption?


"That's life," Williams said. "You can't satisfy everybody. If you're going to go through the world saying, 'I hope they don't boo me,' or worry about what people are going to say, you're not going to make it too far.


"My whole thing is that whatever is going to be said is going to be said, whether it's good or bad. Everybody has their own opinion."

Johnson, the third overall selection in 2003, was of the opinion that Williams was probably trying to downplay his feelings.


"I was here in this stadium when we drafted him," Johnson said. "Just sitting there listening to (the boos), I was just like, 'Man, they never even gave this guy a chance to go out on the field and prove himself.'


"Of course, Reggie had all the highlights… so everyone was going to want him. But if you ask anyone that was at our game on Sunday who would they want on this team, I bet you they'd say Mario Williams. I think he's proven himself."


{QUOTE}Williams, an *Associated Press *second-team All-Pro in 2007, has four forced fumbles and 46 tackles along with his 11 sacks this season. He has accounted for half of the Texans' 22 sacks and, over the last two seasons, has been responsible for 25 of the team's 53 sacks (47.2 percent).


Johnson already has set a new career high and a Texans franchise record in receiving yards this season. His reception total through 14 games is tied with his franchise record, and he is tied for the 2008 league lead with a career-best seven 100-yard games. Johnson had a career-high 207 receiving yards in Sunday's win over the Tennessee Titans.


No player besides Johnson, who exceeded 6,000 career receiving yards and 400 career receptions this season, has been to two Pro Bowls in a Texans uniform – let alone three.


"It really hasn't (sunk in)," Johnson said. "I just go out and play football. I feel like if you just go out and do what you're supposed to do out on the football field, then all of the attention and Pro Bowls and those things will happen for you. I'm very blessed to be going to my third one."


Texans tight end Owen Daniels and linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who started in the Pro Bowl last year, were named first alternates for the AFC squad. Fullback Vonta Leach, guard Chester Pitts and running back Steve Slaton are second alternates for the game.


Slaton ranks third in the AFC with 1,124 rushing yards and tied for first in the AFC with 4.9 yards per carry. He leads all AFC players with 1,429 yards from scrimmage. But the New York Jets' Thomas Jones (starter) and the Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson and Miami Dolphins' Ronnie Brown (alternates) were named to the Pro Bowl roster in Slaton's stead.


"You definitely feel bad for him," Johnson said. "You would think that (with) a guy being (third) in the AFC in rushing as a rookie that guys would vote him in, but it's hard when you're a rookie because guys really don't want to vote rookies in to the Pro Bowl."

Third-year Texans Cheerleader Ashley, selected by a vote from her teammates, will represent the Texans in Hawaii with Johnson and Williams.

Texans in the Pro Bowl

         </td>
     </tr>
     <tr>
         <td> **Player**</td>
         <td>**Position**</td>
         <td>**Season**</td>
         <td>**Career selections**</td>
     </tr>
     <tr>
         <td> Andre Johnson*</td>
         <td> WR</td>
         <td> 2008</td>
         <td> 3rd</td>
     </tr>
     <tr>
         <td> Mario Williams*</td>
         <td> DE</td>
         <td> 2008</td>
         <td> 1st</td>
     </tr>
     <tr>
         <td> DeMeco Ryans*</td>
         <td> LB</td>
         <td> 2007</td>
         <td> 1st</td>
     </tr>
     <tr>
         <td> Andre Johnson*</td>
         <td> WR</td>
         <td> 2006</td>
         <td> 2nd</td>
     </tr>
     <tr>
         <td> Jerome Mathis</td>
         <td> WR</td>
         <td> 2005</td>
         <td> 1st</td>
     </tr>
     <tr>
         <td> Andre Johnson</td>
         <td> WR</td>
         <td> 2004</td>
         <td> 1st</td>
     </tr>
     <tr>
         <td> Aaron Glenn*</td>
         <td> CB</td>
         <td> 2002</td>
         <td> 3rd</td>
     </tr>
     <tr>
         <td> Gary Walker</td>
         <td> DE</td>
         <td> 2002</td>
         <td> 2nd</td>
     </tr>
     <tr>
         <td>***denotes Pro Bowl starter**</td>
         <td></td>
         <td></td>
         <td></td>
     </tr>
 </tbody>


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