Tom Brady overtook Michael Vick to lead all players in the final fan voting for the Pro Bowl.
Brady, the New England Patriots’ quarterback, had nearly 1.88 million votes when balloting ended Monday. Vick, the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback, topped the NFC with more than 1.52 million votes.
The top five vote-getters were quarterbacks. The Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning was third with 1.13 million votes, followed by the San Diego Chargers’ Philip Rivers with 1.04 million and the New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees at 971,731.
The leading non-QB was Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who got 948,410 votes.
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Almost 100 million votes were cast online and via mobile phones.
Fans account for one-third of the selection process. Players and coaches could vote Wednesday or today.
The 43-man rosters will be announced Tuesday. The Pro Bowl will be Jan. 30 in Honolulu.
PACKERS’ RODGERS RETURNS TO PRACTICE
Aaron Rodgers returned to practice for the Green Bay Packers. With the playoffs still a realistic possibility, he’s expected to start Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.
And while Rodgers acknowledges he’ll be careful about sliding instead of taking a direct hit when he scrambles in the future, he says coming back from his second concussion this season won’t fundamentally change the way he plays.
“I have zero doubts taking the field,” Rodgers said. “I feel confident. I’ve been cleared. The doctors are confident.
“I’m going to continue to play the way I play.”
Rodgers sat out practices and team meetings last week and didn’t play in Sunday night’s loss at New England.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Rodgers received medical clearance Tuesday and is expected to start Sunday’s game.
RYAN MUM FOR ONCE
Normally talkative New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said it’s a “personal matter” and declined to talk about a “foot-fetish” report posted by the website Deadspin that show four videos of a woman who bears a close resemblance to Ryan’s wife, Michelle.
The videos show a woman displaying her toes to an off-screen cameraman who, in one video, sounds a lot like the coach. The two are having an intimate chat about her feet.
Ryan declined several times to discuss the matter.
The 49ers denied a report that Troy Smith would start at quarterback for Sunday’s pivotal NFC West game against the Rams. Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson said the decision hasn’t been made. Chargers tight end Antonio Gates likely will sit out the final two games of the regular season to rest his injured right foot. Shaun Hill took snaps with the Lions’ first-string offense and is likely to start against the Dolphins. The Colts placed wide receiver Austin Collie on injured reserve because of a concussion.
TODAY’S NFL GAME
CAROLINA (2-12) AT PITTSBURGH (10-4)
Kickoff: 5:20 p.m. TV: NFL Network. RADIO: 950-AM.
LINE: Pittsburgh by 141/2.
SYNOPSIS: Pittsburgh already has locked up a playoff slot and will rest standout S Troy Polamalu (strained Achilles’ tendon), but his counterparts should be able to contain QB Jimmy Clausen (just two TD passes in eight starts) and an offense that ranks last in the league in points, yards and passing yards. Look for Pittsburgh’s struggling offense to come to life against a defense that has allowed 55 points in its past two road games.
Bottom line: Pittsburgh still has plenty to play for—a victory gives it the AFC North title and the No. 2 seed in the conference playoffs.
THE PICK: Steelers 27, Panthers 6.
McClatchy news services