Five players, including dynamic pass catchers Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams, are unanimous choices for the Associated Press 2021 NFL All-Pro Team.
Joining the Rams’ Kupp and the Packers’ Adams in receiving votes Friday from all 50 members of a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league are Colts running back Jonathan Taylor, Steelers edge rusher T.J. Watt, and Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
Cornerback J.C. Jackson and special teamer Matthew Slater of the Patriots were named to the second team.
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.
Like Donald, although not nearly as often as the offense-wrecking DT, several players are making another appearance on the All-Pro Team. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on for the fourth time, as is Philadelphia center Jason Kelce — one more than his brother, Chiefs’ star tight end Travis. One better than them: Dallas right guard Zack Martin and Baltimore placekicker Justin Tucker at five.
Three-time All-Pros are Colts linebacker Darius Leonard, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward. Double All-Pros are Browns edge rusher
The Packers, Colts, Ravens, Rams and Cowboys each have three All-Pros. There's an even breakdown by conference of 14 apiece.
Chiefs RB Edwards-Helaire out
The Chiefs will be without Clyde Edwards-Helaire for their wild-card playoff game against the Steelers Sunday night after their starting running back was unable to put together a full week of practice because of a hurt collarbone.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid confirmed Edwards-Helaire would be ruled out for the playoff opener after he returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday but did not practice at all Thursday or Friday.
The oft-injured Edwards-Helaire missed five games earlier this season with a sprained knee ligament. He returned to start five more games before leaving early in the second half of the Chiefs’ 36-10 romp over Pittsburgh Dec. 26.
The injuries have turned the 2020 first-round pick into an afterthought in the Kansas City offense. Edwards-Helaire has run for just 517 yards and four touchdowns with 19 catches for 129 yards and two scores in parts of 10 games this season.
In his place, former undrafted free-agent Darrel Williams has turned into a reliable option in the backfield. He’s started seven times this season and run for 558 yards and six touchdowns with 47 catches for 452 yards and two scores, giving him more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage for the first time in his four-year career.
The Chiefs also have been relying on another undrafted free agent, Derrick Gore, and journeyman Jerick McKinnon.
Texans defend firing of David Culley
Texans general manager Nick Caseriodefended his decision to fire head coach David Culley after just one season, citing differences in opinion about the organization’s path forward.
The Texans announced the firings of Culley and offensive coordinator Tim Kelly Thursday night following a 4-13 season.
“When you look at the way we played — the effort and toughness and consistency and competitive spirit that we played with — a lot of that should be attributed to David,” Caserio said. “Philosophically, there were some things in the end that maybe we saw a little bit differently, and that was the impetus for the decision that we made yesterday.”
Culley’s dismissal left only one Black head coach in the NFL, Mike Tomlin of the Steelers. Brian Flores was fired this week after leading the Dolphins to a 9-8 record.
Culley, 66, spent 43 seasons as a college and NFL assistant before finally getting his first head coaching job.
Caserio declined to go into details over where he differed with Culley and stressed that it was his decision to fire him.
“It’s about fixing problems and finding solutions,” Caserio said. “We need to do a better job of that, and I need to do a better job of that. It’s not necessarily one specific thing. In the end, there were some differences about next steps and how we move forward, not necessarily rear-view mirror about what has happened.”