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Marcell Dareus within striking distance of first place in Pro Bowl fan vote

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Buffalo Bills defenders keep bolstering their status among their NFL peers in fan Pro Bowl voting.

In this week's update, rookie Kiko Alonso remains first at inside linebacker and fourth among all defenders, while defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and free safety Jairus Byrd inch upward in the polls.

Pro Bowl invitations will be announced Dec. 27, the Friday before regular-season finales are played. Fan votes, which can be submitted until 6 p.m. Dec. 26, count for one-third of the process. Coaches and players also cast ballots.

Alonso has 335,878 votes, seemingly locked behind Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman with 477,595, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt with 363,433 and Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas with 359,255.

Dareus moved past Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe into second behind the Dallas Cowboys' Jason Hatcher, while Kyle Williams remained in fourth. Dareus is just 6,079 votes behind Hatcher.

Mario Williams was overtaken barely by St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn for second place far behind Watt.

Byrd broke into the top 10 last week and then jumped up to eighth at free safety. Aaron Williams, coming off perhaps his best game, dropped to seventh at strong safety.

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Vic Carucci returned to The Buffalo News as a Bills beat reporter in September. Carucci covered the Bills for 17 years before joining NFL.com as a columnist in 1999. Prior to rejoining The News, he spent three years as a senior editor for the Cleveland Browns.

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida.