Dave Toub says Corey Graham’s Pro Bowl nod overdue
By Mark Potash firstname.lastname@example.org December 30, 2011 9:52PM
Special-teams coordinator Dave Toub said Corey Graham should’ve made the Pro Bowl last season. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: February 21, 2012 10:52AM
It’s hard to say the Pro Bowl was a long time coming for Corey Graham when teammate Charles Tillman waited nine years to make it. But special-teams coordinator Dave Toub said Graham’s selection as a special-teams player this season was overdue.
Graham, who leads the Bears in special-teams tackles with 20, had 25 last year and didn’t make it. Since 2007, Graham is tied for second in the NFL with 74 special-teams tackles (65 solo).
‘‘He’s really come a long way,’’ Toub said. ‘‘Coming out of New Hampshire . . . he was raw. But he always had the desire. He never made the same mistake twice. And it’s paid off for him now.
‘‘That’s what’s so gratifying, seeing him get the recognition he has because he’s worked so hard. He had such a great year last year, I thought he deserved it [then]. To get it now, that makes it all worthwhile.’’
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who suffered a knee injury against the Packers last week, practiced Friday and is expected to start Sunday against the Vikings, though he’s listed as questionable.
‘‘It’s always good to have our main guy out there,’’ coach Lovie Smith said. ‘‘Didn’t see any issues with him today.’’
Running back Marion Barber (calf) did not practice and is listed as doubtful.
Devin Hester, who has made the Pro Bowl three times, was thought to be a lock this season with three returns for touchdowns. But he was beaten out by Cardinals rookie Patrick Peterson, who has four punt returns for touchdowns.
‘‘I was shocked,’’ Toub said. ‘‘[Hester] had a great year. Three returns — one on a kick return, two on punt returns. The fact that he did both, I thought he would be a shoo-in. But not taking anything way from Peterson. Peterson’s a great punt returner, no question.’’
Notre Dame blues
Rookie running back Armando Allen had a playful ‘‘no comment’’ when asked about Notre Dame’s 18-14 loss to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl on Thursday night.
‘‘It was definitely tough because those are my brothers, and I love the coaches,’’ said Allen, who was Notre Dame’s leading rusher through six games last year (534 yards, 4.8 per carry) until he suffered a hip flexor against Pittsburgh. ‘‘It was especially tough to watch because I’m an alumnus now. I really know what it feels like.’’
Filling AP’s shoes
Toby Gerhart couldn’t be much more different than Adrian Peterson as a running back, but the second-year pro from Stanford has been effective as Peterson’s replacement.
Gerhart rushed for 109 yards on 11 carries in the Vikings’ victory over the Redskins last week. His 67-yard run was the Vikings’ longest this season. Peterson, who suffered torn knee ligaments last week, had a long run of 54. For the season, Gerhart has gained 464 yards on 94 carries (4.9 yards per carry) with one touchdown.
The Bears know what they’re in for. Gerhart rushed for 97 yards on 20 carries in two games against them last season.
‘‘He runs really hard, and he’s faster than people think,’’ linebacker Lance Briggs said. ‘‘He puts his head down and makes defenders pay. I like the way he runs.’’