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Might next season be a Pro Bowl one for Keller?

Dustin Keller #81 of the New York Jets

Dustin Keller #81 of the New York Jets tries to avoid the tackle of Lawrence Timmons #94 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2011 AFC Championship. (Jan. 23, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

Dustin Keller still has a ways to go to be considered among the NFL's elite tight ends, but he's hoping to take another huge leap towards making reservations for Hawaii come next January.

Keller posted 55 receptions for 687 yards and five touchdowns -- all career highs -- during the 2010 season and needs to continue that ascension if he's going to be invited to his first Pro Bowl.

"Obviously, the team goals are all above other things," Keller said earlier today following an appearance at a Dick's Sporting Goods grand opening at The Source in White Plains. "But yeah, personally I’d love to go to the Pro Bowl and all that stuff. But that’s definitely secondary to all the team goals."

Of course, there has to be an actual season in order for Keller to set his sights on a spot in the Pro Bowl. He believes there will be one -- eventually.

"I think that this whole entire thing is going to ride out for a little bit longer, and we are going to miss pretty much all the offseason," Keller said. "But I think there will be a season. I’m pretty optimistic that something will get done."

Until it does, the Jets' trio of free agent receivers are in limbo, waiting to see what's going to happen. Keller said he's been in touch with Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith, all of whom he wants to see wearing Jets' garb again next season.

"I’ve talked to all of them, not so much about football-related stuff," he said, "just staying in contact and seeing how they are doing because that whole entire process, any of that talk is not going to affect it at all. Just let it play out however it’s going to play out. I think if we could, we’d like to have all three of those guys back because all three are a huge weapon in their own right."

But it's going to take a while for things to shake out during an offseason that has obviously decidedly different feel to it.

"It’s been really weird," Keller said. "It’s been actually very relaxing to be honest. But you definitely want to get back to football and working out. Hopefully, the working out part is something everybody has been doing on their own and staying in shape because you never know when that time is going to come, and you don’t want to be locked out all the way through training camp and then have to start and play a game in a couple of weeks."

Especially when you heard Rex Ryan boasting during the NFL Scouting Combine that this is going to be the year the Jets win the Super Bowl (now, where have we heard that before?).

"That's what Rex does, and he truly believes it, and we buy into it and we believe it as well," Keller said. "So there’s a reason. I mean, we were very close and it could have been done the past two seasons. But the third time is the charm."

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