3 and Out(Pt 1): Can RG3 rehab his knee successfully?
There won’t be much on the line Sunday other than bragging rights when the Pro Bowl kicks off at Aloha Stadium. There likely won’t be much in the way of big hits or late game drama, either.
But since you’ll be watching anyway, here’s a quick primer for Redskins fans ahead of the NFL’s annual all-star game. Below are the five players who were recognized as being among the game’s elite and the reasons they were tapped:
LB Lorenzo Alexander: Washington’s special team’s ace made his first Pro Bowl for his stellar play on punt and kick coverage. Aided by dropping 20 pounds in the offseason and gaining a step as a result, Alexander was credited by the team’s coaching staff for making 29 special teams tackles. The 29-year-old, who has served as the unit’s captain the past three seasons, is the first Redskins special teamer to make the game since long snapper Ethan Albright was named in 2007.
LB London Fletcher: The 37-year-old will be making his fourth consecutive appearance in the Pro Bowl, making him the first Redskin to achieve that since Chris Samuels earned berths from 2005-08. Fletcher made the eighth most tackles in the league (139) despite playing the final eight games with a sprained ankle that limited his practice time. He also extended his consecutive games streak to 240 games and snagged a career high five interceptions, including four during the team’s pivotal seven game winning streak. Originally named as an alternate, Fletcher received his bid because the 49ers’ Patrick Willis is preparing for the Super Bowl.
QB Robert Griffin III: He won’t participate, of course, because of the knee injury he sustained in the postseason loss to the Seahawks. Assuming the 22-year-old returns to his pre-injury form, there’s little doubt he’ll eventually get to play in a Pro Bowl (or a half dozen) in the future. In 15 games, RG3 threw 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions, rushed for 815 yards and set virtually every franchise record for a rookie signal caller. He was also only the seventh rookie quarterback named to the Pro Bowl in league history and the first Redskins’ quarterback of any experience level to receive the honor since Brad Johnson in 1999.
LB Ryan Kerrigan: Kerrigan recorded a team-high 8.5 sacks, recovered a fumble and returned an interception for a touchdown for the second straight season. He also made 54 tackles, including a season-high six in the Redskins' playoff-clinching victory over the Cowboys, and defended eight passes. It's also important to note that the 24-year-old’s breakout season occurred as he coped with additional attention from opponents after the loss of linebacker Brian Orakpo to injury in Week 2. It's Kerrigan's first career Pro Bowl berth and he'll be replacing 49ers' linebacker Aldon Smith.
OL Trent Williams: The fourth overall pick in 2010, Williams arrived in Washington amid huge expectations. After some setbacks, he lived up to the hype in his third season, playing a key role in paving the way for the NFL’s top rushing offense. Despite routinely facing some of the game’s top defensive players, Williams was responsible for only four of the 33 sacks absorbed by Redskins’ quarterbacks as well as two quarterback hits and 18 hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com. (Update: Williams will not play in the game due to non-serious injuries sustained in an altercation early Friday morning in Hawaii.)
While the outcome of Sunday’s game might not mean much, the fact that so many Redskins will be on the field represents a significant step forward for the rebuilding franchise, according to Alexander.
“Last year we didn’t have anyone voted in,” said Alexander, who noted that Fletcher was tapped as an injury replacement in 2012. “So it’s great to guys getting voted in outright. Obviously, when you win, the more you’re on that national stage performing well, the more guys get voted in. People tend to recognize you more. Hopefully, we can keep moving that way.”