Is this Bush's year to make the Pro Bowl?
The unsung hero of the Green Bay Packers' special-team units is finally drawing some attention.
Ninth-year veteran Jarrett Bush is the leading vote-getter for the Pro Bowl among NFC special-teams players with 50,187 votes through Wednesday, according to a league release. Voting runs through Monday, Dec. 15.
Bush is joined by quarterback Aaron Rodgers (498,826), fullback John Kuhn (145,977), receiver Jordy Nelson (319,920) and guard Josh Sitton (118,221) as the five Packers' players leading NFC voting at their respective position.
Bush, a cornerback by trade, has been a fixture on the special teams since the Packers claimed him off waivers from Carolina in 2006. As the third longest-tenured player on the roster, Bush has registered 109 special-teams tackles during his career.
It's been Bush's goal for some time to make the Pro Bowl for his special-teams heroics, but it's not easy. Only one representative from each conference is selected. New England's Matt Slater, who received a two-year contract extension on Wednesday, is the top vote-getter in the AFC with 63,126 votes.
"I'll pitch for him," defensive back Micah Hyde said with a smile. "JB is one of those guys that comes in here every day. What you guys see on Sunday is what he does Tuesday, our off day, he does that on Tuesday. Those guys are hard to come by. He's working as hard as he can ever day. It hurt him not to play last game. JB is a go-getter and he's going to be out there trying to help our team win."
Rookie linebacker Jayrone Elliott, who was one of two undrafted rookies to make the Packers' initial 53-man roster, was drawn to Bush from the start.
"He has my vote. That guy brings it every day," Elliott said. "He's the true role model of an undrafted guy. I look up to him. He's one guy who took me under his wing since Day 1. I didn't know him and he was always talking to me. I was like why is this DB talking to me? That's one good guy who anybody can really look up to."
Bush missed Sunday's 24-21 win over Minnesota with a groin injury, but still ranks second on the team with 210 special-team snaps and 10 tackles this season, trailing only Sean Richardson (220 snaps, 13 tackles).
The Packers replaced Bush at gunner on the punt coverage unit with rookie Demetri Goodson, who has impressed the coaching staff with his explosiveness and aggression but was also flagged for interference with returner's opportunity to catch. It resulted in a 15-yard penalty.
Bush, 30, could be in danger of missing his eighth career game on Sunday against the Patriots after sitting out practice on Wednesday and Thursday. He's making $1.7 million this season in final year of the three-year contract he signed with the team on March 26, 2012.
While he'll be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, the wily veteran continues to make an impact on the often-forgotten phase of the game.
"I mean, that'd be great," Bush said. "It's one of the goals I've been shooting for, for a while. If I were to do that, it'd be something very meaningful for us. Not as much as a Super Bowl. I definitely want to get back there as soon as possible, as soon as I can."
-- firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.