Chicago Sun-Times

An NFL first: Peppers an All-Pro DE -- with eight sacks

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Julius Peppers not only became the first Bears defensive end to be named to the Associated Press NFL All-Pro team since Richard Dent in 1985 on Monday, he did it the hard way -- with only eight sacks.

How hard is that? Peppers is the first defensive end to make the All-Pro team with fewer than 10 sacks since sacks became an official league statistic in 1982. In fact, in the past 15 seasons, the Colts' Dwight Freeney (11 in 2005) and Peppers (11 in 2004) are the only defensive ends with fewer than 13 sacks to make the All-Pro team.

The Falcons' John Abraham, who led all NFL defensive ends with 13 sacks this season, was the other end chosen to the 2010 team.

It's almost ironic that Peppers is so obviously getting recognized for being a great all-around defensive end when the knock on him when he came to Chicago was that he was an all-or-nothing sack guy who ''took plays off.''

You had to have a pretty good knowledge of Peppers and his impact on the Bears' defense to recognize Peppers as one of the two best defensive ends in football this year. It's not like any teammates had big sack totals you could credit to the attention being paid to Peppers. Israel Idonije tied Peppers for the team lead with eight in his first year at defensive end. But Alex Brown had six playing opposite Adewale Ogunleye last year.

In fact, the Bears had fewer sacks with Peppers this season (34) than they did with Ogunleye and Brown (and Hunter Hillenmeyer at middle linebacker) last year (35).

The Bears jumped from 7-9 in 2009 to 11-5 and an NFC title in 2010 and were much improved on defense (from 17th to ninth in yards allowed; from 21st to fifth in points allowed). But, especially with Urlacher around, a defensive end usually has to have bigger numbers than Peppers had to get that much credit for it.

But at least from Chicago, you have to say they got it right.

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And dare I say, he'll be the first one to win this year's AP Defensive Player of the Year too. : )

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on January 24, 2011 8:50 PM.

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