Bradley Handwerger / Sports Writer


That's what the kids would say.

And to what am I shenanigan'ing?

The fact that Saints defensive end Will Smith was left off the NFC Pro Bowl ballot.

The fact that Saints running back Mark Ingram was left off the NFC Pro Bowl ballot.

The fact that Saints receiver Lance Moore was left off the NFC Pro Bowl ballot.

Indeed, crazy things happens in the 21st century when technology runs our lives and we don't get to make many decisions because they're made for us.

But presumably humans are in charge of putting names on the Pro Bowl ballot and though this year's ballot is chock full full of Saints, those three seem to be the biggest asterisks and question marks.

The league has a rule, we're told, that anyone who was suspended for violating the league's drug policy isn't allowed to be nominated. So that eliminates Smith...except that Tampa Bay safety Tanard Jackson was nominated.

Jackson, you may recall, was suspended for an entire year after violating the league's drug policy. He missed most of the 2010 season and the first five games of 2011.

So Smith, seemingly, should have been nominated. That, or Jackson should not have been.

(Mea culpa - The NFL responded with a clarification of why Smith could not be nominated but Jackson could.

'Any player suspended for a violation of the league's Policy on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances will not be eligible for selection to the Pro Bowl,' spokesman Randall Liu said. 'Tanard Jackson was suspended for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.' )

The other two don't seem to be so cut and dry.

Pierre Thomas was New Orleans' only nominee for the running back position. Solid choice, sure. But where is Ingram, the Saints' leading rusher? He has 107 more yards than Thomas and three more rushing touchdowns than the veteran.

Ingram also leads the NFL on third-and-one, converting 9 of 11 opportunities, the best in the league in both opportunities and chances.

Meanwhile, Darren Sproles is missing as a running back, nominated only as a kick returner. Forget the fact that Sproles leads the NFL with 15 catches on third down. Or that he's in the top-50 in the league in receiving a running back.

Moore, on the other hand, is probably the most understandable of the group left off. Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem all were nominated. It's hard to get four guys at one position on the ballot. Still, he's one of quarterback Drew Brees' top targets and most reliable receivers.

There's one other thing that stands out.

Linebacker Will Herring was nominated. That's all we'll say about that.

Nominations, we're told, come from a combination of club and NFL collaboration.

Saints nominations:

Quarterback: Drew Brees (2,477 yards, 18 Tds, 8 INTs, 104.6 QB rating)

Running back: Pierre Thomas (222 yards, 4.4 average, 0 TD)

Receiver: Marques Colston (26 catches for 374 yards, 14.4 average, 3 TDs), Devery Henderson (15 catches for 297 yards, 19.8 average, 2 TDs), Robert Meachem (25 catches for 278 yards, 11.1 average, 3 TDs)

Fullback: Jed Collins (2 yards, 2 Tds)

Tight End: Jimmy Graham (45 catches for 674 yards, 5 TDs)

Tackle: Jermon Bushrod, Zach Strief

Guard: Carl Nicks, Jahri Evans

Center: Brian de la Puente

Defensive End: Cameron Jordan (19 tackles), Turk McBride (4 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble)

Defensive Tackle: Sedrick Ellis (12 tackles, .5 sacks), Aubrayo Franklin (9 tackles)

Inside Linebacker: Jonathan Vilma (29 tackles)

Outside Linebacker: Will Herring (2 tackles), Scott Shanle (29 tackles)

Cornerback: Jabari Grer (28 tackles, 1 interception), Patrick Robinson (19 tackles, 2 interceptions)

Strong Safety: Roman Harper (42 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble)

Free Safety: Malcolm Jenkins (33 tackles)

Kicker: John Kasay (16 of 18, 53-yard long)

Punter: Thomas Morstead (18 punts, 49.8 average, 61 long, 2 inside the 20)

Kick Returner: Darren Sproles (14 kickoff returns, 26.9 average; 12 punt returns, 10.1 average)

Special Teams: Courtney Roby

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