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Houston Texans

Super Mario gets overlooked


With two games to play, Mario Williams is second in the league with 13.0 sacks, an increase of 8.5 over his rookie season.

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Mario Williams is among the NFL's leading sackers and yet he wasn't voted onto the Pro Bowl team.

Crazy? His teammates think so.

"The way the Pro Bowl is done, it's so weird the way they do it," tackle Eric Winston said. "They wait until the last two or three weeks of the season to vote on it. It's kind of quirky."

Linebacker DeMeco Ryans will represent the Texans in the Pro Bowl while Williams, safety Will Demps and Kris Brown were chosen as second alternates.

Williams made a big splash in the Texans' nationally televised victory over Denver last Thursday. Williams had 3.5 sacks in that game and set a Texans' career sack record of 17.5. Even before that big game, Williams was having an outstanding year. He's second in the NFL with 13 sacks.

"I mean, it is what it is," Williams said Wednesday. "Like I said all along, I'm really not worried about a personal goal. Right now, we're just trying to get a winning season, so that's all that matters. I'm not disappointed.

"It's just another one of those things I can't control, so I can't be disappointed about something I can't handle. I can't do anything about it."

{QUOTE}He was chosen as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week following the Denver game. It was Williams' second selection this season. He also got the honor after the season opener against Kansas City. No other player in the AFC has won those accolades twice this season.

Williams says he's not allowing the snub to bother him.

"The most satisfying thing is if we win," Williams said. "Just the players being there for me. That's all that matters – just the family that's here in this locker room."

Wide receiver Andre Johnson, a Pro Bowl starter in 2005 and 2007, counseled Williams.

"We talked about it before the selections came out and I told him that sometimes guys that deserve to go don't go," Johnson said. "That happens every year. I was just explaining it to him that it's out of your control and nothing you can do about it.

"He has to come back and do what he did and a little bit more and hopefully he'll be in the same situation next year and he'll be going."

Ryans was among those surprised that Williams was left off the team.

"Yes, I was definitely surprised that Mario wasn't named," Ryans said. "This guy is second in the league in sacks. He's been tearing it up the past weeks and he's been doing a great job, a phenomenal job, and it's a shame that he got overlooked.

"But I think whoever is our coach for the Pro Bowl, the AFC team, they get to pick a special needs player and they should definitely pick Mario because I think he's very deserving of that."

Some of the voters must not have witnessed Williams' season. He has nine sacks in the last five games. After getting his third sack against the Broncos, Williams did a hula dance. He won't get to do it in Hawaii this year.

"You know how it goes, the fans voting, there are so many things that play into it," guard Chester Pitts said. "He's played well. What else do you have to do except come back next year and do it again, and he'll be in Hawaii."

Williams is the only player in the NFL with a sack in each of the past five weeks.

"I'm trying to get better and not go backward," Williams said.

Coach Gary Kubiak knows Williams deserves a spot in the Pro Bowl. He's seen the progress over two seasons.

"When I saw him start to take scout team reps in practice about six weeks ago, I knew we were headed in the big time right direction," Kubiak said.

Williams experienced some disapproval last season from fans and the media. Now they're chanting his name and singing his praises.

"There was a time when moving him around we felt it hurt him," Kubiak said. "Now it's not that way at all. He wants to move around. He wants to play in various spots. He can handle it mentally. Our whole defense is able to handle it."

Kubiak has been pushing Williams to step up as a team leader.

"My talk was about what's happened to us as a team this past month has a lot to do with him as a player," Kubiak said. "He's been playing well. The sack numbers weren't always there, but he's gotten more confidence working with (defensive line coach) Jethro (Franklin) and (defensive coordinator) Richard (Smith). The whole defense is doing better. They're doing stunts better."

And yet, he's not the Pro Bowl starter.

"I think he deserves to go, no doubt," Kubiak said. "My challenge is for him to finish up the way he's played all year and I think he'll get plenty of credit."

At least, Williams no longer hears comparisons to Young and he's happy to acknowledge the cheers.

"Well, I still don't watch TV and I still don't read the paper so seriously," he said. "I guess it's a good thing to kind of have things change. But I just try to play hard and make things happen."

EDITOR'S NOTE: *Michael A. Lutz worked for The Associated Press for 38 years covering news and sports in

Houston covering the Oilers, Astros, Texans and other college and pro sports.*

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