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October

No Surprise: Rodgers, Jennings, Matthews Lead Packers With 2011 Pro Bowl Credentials

Voting for the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl opened on Tuesday, which makes it only fitting to run down which Packers have a crack at getting a trip to Hawaii. And yes, I know—October is entirely too early to be thinking about the Pro Bowl. But this early start to the voting gives us a convenient way of running down how players are doing seven weeks in.

Don’t forget, getting voted in doesn’t necessarily guarantee their spot. If the Packers have it their way, they’ll be preparing that week for a trip to Indianapolis to play in Super Bowl XLVI .

Let’s run down the nominees and their credentials so far:

QB Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers could probably take the rest of the season off and still secure a spot in the Pro Bowl. No quarterback in the game is playing better right now, and the stats back it up: 171-for-239 (71.5 percent), 2,371 yards, 9.9 average, 20 TDs, 3 INTS, 125.7 rating. Barring any injury, he should be a lock.

FB John Kuhn: Kuhn hasn’t seen as much of the ball this season as the last, but he’s still contributed two scores to the Packers high-octane offense. Kuhn has also been solid in pass protection. There are more deserving candidates, like Jed Collins in New Orleans, but the popularity of Kuhn could be enough to sneak in.

WR Greg Jennings: Jennings remains Rodgers’ top target despite a myriad of weapons in the offense. With 42 receptions, 677 yards and five TDs in seven games, Jennings is on pace for his best season as a pro. In a crowded NFC field for receivers (Steve Smith, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Hakeem Nicks), Jennings still should make the squad with ease.

WR Jordy Nelson: A fast start, fueled by a bevy of big plays, gives credence to the discussion of Nelson in the Pro Bowl. Of players with 20 or more catches, Nelson has the third highest yards per reception at 19.4 and he’s No. 1 in average yards after catch (10.1). If Nelson stays on his current pace, he’d finish with 55 catches for 1,062 yards and 9 TDs. While there’s very, very little chance that Nelson could make the Pro Bowl with the level of receivers in the NFC, it’s worth noting that he’s having far-and-away the best season of his career.