Outside linebacker Marcus Washington has been selected to the NFC squad for the 2005 Pro Bowl. Washington is the Redskins' lone Pro Bowl representative.
The 6-3, 247-pound Washington has been an impact player for the Redskins since coming over from the Indianapolis Colts in the 2004 offseason. He has started every game at linebacker for the Redskins and has totaled 110 tackled and 3.5 sacks.
Rather shocking is the absence of several members of the NFC's top-ranked defense, including defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin and cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Fred Smoot. All three were named Pro Bowl alternates and will go to the annual All-Star game only if another team's player at their position sustains an injury.
The Redskins' list of alternates is as follows:
Clinton Portis, RB
Sean Taylor, S
Antonio Pierce, MLB
Fred Smoot, CB
Tom Tupa, P
Shawn Springs, CB
Cornelius Griffin, DT
The Pro Bowl will be held in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Feb. 13, 2005. As in years past, fans, players and coaches selected the AFC and NFC All-Stars. Each group's collective vote count one-third towards determining conference rosters.
Washington's verve and enthusiasm has been infectious on the defense all season. The Redskins' defense is ranked first in the NFC and second in the NFL behind only Pittsburgh.
"Marcus is quickly setting an example of what it is to be the kind of Redskin we want," assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said earlier this season. "He plays with a very up-tempo, physical attitude and nature."
Griffin being named a fourth alternate at defensive tackle is particularly surprising. He has been a dominating presence and is a big reason why the Redskins' defense is ranked third overall against the run. Griffin has 85 tackles (58 solo), 13 tackles for a loss and a team-high five sacks this season.
Smoot and Springs have joined forces this season to become a pair of solid shutdown corners. Springs is tied for the team lead with four interceptions and also has three sacks in Williams' aggressive defense. Smoot has three interceptions, a team-high 12 passes defensed and two forced fumbles.
Taylor has also come on in recent weeks, but rookies are rarely awarded a Pro Bowl nod in their inaugural season. Even so, Taylor has been a formidable presence in the Redskins' secondary. He has 77 tackles (54 solo), one sack and four interceptions on the season.
At middle linebacker, Pierce made a strong push for a Pro Bowl berth. Forced into the starting lineup when Mike Barrow was sidelined with a knee injury early in the season, Pierce has responded with a team-high 136 tackles (92 solo), one sack and two interceptions. In last Saturday's 26-16 win over the San Francisco 49ers, Pierce returned an interception 78 yards for a touchdown.
On offense, Clinton Portis is ranked third in the NFC with 1,283 rushing yards on 333 carries. He also has five touchdowns. If he eclipses 1,500 yards, he would become the first running back to accomplish that feat in his first three NFL seasons.
On special teams, punter Tom Tupa was also a solid candidate for the NFC squad. He is second in the conference (behind Carolina's Todd Sauerbrun) with a 44.4 yards-per-punt average on a conference-high 94 punts. He also has nailed 29 punts inside the 20-yard line, second-best in the NFC.