For a team that went a measly 10-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys suddenly have a large contingent at the Pro Bowl, with center Andre Gurode the latest to be named as an injury replacement. Nick Eatman reports:
After getting just four players selected initially, the Cowboys have yet another player headed to Hawaii. The NFL announced Tuesday that center Andre Gurode will replace Chicago’s Olin Kreutz, who was named as the NFC’s starting center back in December.
It also means Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will probably have his regular center in the game when he makes his own Pro Bowl debut this week.
Romo and Gurode are two of four Cowboys making their first appearance in the annual All-Star game, joining punter Mat McBriar and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
Flozell Adams and Jason Witten are going back for the third time, while safety Roy Williams will make his fourth straight appearance.
The Cowboys’ seven Pro Bowl players is their highest total in one season since they had nine players selected in 1996.
Gurode becomes the fourth center in Cowboys history to make the Pro Bowl, along with Dave Manders, Mark Stepnoski and Ray Donaldson, the last Cowboys center to make the NFC squad (1996).
A five-year veteran, Gurode started all 16 games this season at center after playing mainly guard during his previous four seasons with the Cowboys. Gurode will be an unrestricted free agent for the second straight off-season, and his Pro Bowl honor makes it likely the Cowboys will have to shell out a few more million to keep him around now. The Cowboys signed Gurode to a one-year, $1 million deal last year with the hopes he could provide some depth at either center or guard. But after beating out Al Johnson for the starting center job in training camp, Gurode never looked back, becoming one of the anchors of the offensive line this season.
Gurode received dubious nationwide recognition back in October when Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth kicked his helmet off after a play and stomped on his face. While Haynesworth received a five-game suspension without pay, Gurode received 30 stitches around eye but returned to the starting lineup the following week.
It’s hard for me to judge offensive linemen but Gurode seemed to make a quantum leap this year. The Cowboys have plenty of cap room and it certainly makes sense to pay to keep around a young, talented center.
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