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Washington Named to Pro Bowl Team

Linebacker Is Only Redskin Chosen

By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 23, 2004; Page D01

Linebacker Marcus Washington was named to the NFC Pro Bowl team yesterday, the only player from the Redskins to be selected.

Washington, a five-year veteran, is second on the Redskins with 110 tackles (86 solo) and 3.5 sacks, plus three pass deflections, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Nonetheless, he said he was surprised that he was chosen for the Pro Bowl over some teammates on the NFL's second-ranked defense.

Marcus Washington, who's second on the team in tackles with 110 and has 3.5 sacks, will play in the Pro Bowl for the first time in his five NFL seasons. (Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)

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"It's an honor, it's my first one," Washington said. "It's been a tough season for us. . . . I've been put in a position to make some plays this year. [Defensive coach Gregg Williams] has been very aggressive with me and just kind of allowed me to play up to my ability. And the defense really fit my personality."

The Redskins had seven players selected as alternates to the game, which will be held Feb. 13 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. Tailback Clinton Portis and rookie safety Sean Taylor are first alternates; linebacker Antonio Pierce, cornerback Fred Smoot and punter Tom Tupa are second alternates; cornerback Shawn Springs is a third alternate; and defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin is a fourth alternate. An alternate is called upon for the game only if another player is injured.

"The good thing is a bunch of 'em got alternates," said Coach Joe Gibbs, "so it says we have very good football players. The problem here is normally when you don't win football games you're not going to be rewarded."

Washington said the downside to making the Pro Bowl was the effect the snub may have on teammates who were not picked. "I know what kind of guys we've got in the locker room. We've got some competitors," Washington said. "Guys that walk around not with chips on their shoulders, but with blocks on their shoulders. I think they're definitely going to take it personal. They're definitely going to raise their game to an even higher level."

Voting for the Pro Bowl has always been unpredictable. Votes by fans, coaches and players each count one-third. Players are prohibited from voting for teammates and coaches can't select their own players.

Most Redskins players couched their disappointment, but the team's cornerback duo was blunt. "I was robbed by someone without a mask," Smoot said, his voice tinged with disappointment. "Quote me."

Springs, who is tied for the team high with four interceptions, declared, "I played better than any cornerback in the league this season."

Redskins players felt this season's omissions were especially egregious. Nine players from the Philadelphia Eagles (13-1) were named to the Pro Bowl -- five on defense, including Jeremiah Trotter, who was released by the Redskins in the offseason. (Philadelphia's list was posted in the Redskins locker room.) "What's Philly's defense ranked?" Pierce asked rhetorically, referring to the Eagles' 10th-ranked defense.

Washington got the nod over Griffin and Pierce, which was somewhat unexpected. Griffin has been considered the team's defensive most valuable player. He has the second-most tackles among NFC defensive linemen and leads the Redskins with 4.5 sacks. Last week Griffin was named the Redskins' player of the year by the Quarterback Club.

Pierce leads the Redskins in tackles and has the fifth most in the NFC. Pierce also has two interceptions, including one returned 78 yards for a touchdown in last Saturday's 26-16 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Williams has praised Pierce for his ability to properly align teammates in Washington's defense.

Dallas Cowboys Coach Bill Parcells told Washington area reporters that he voted for Washington among other Redskins players he declined to reveal. "He's played well, I can tell you that," Parcells said. "I just think he's done a good job for them."

Washington was a free agent acquisition after playing four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. The Redskins signed him to a six-year deal worth $25 million, including a $7 million bonus.

Redskins Notes: Quarterback Patrick Ramsey said he was pleasantly surprised that Gibbs named him the team's starter for next season. Ramsey's solid play in his five starts, during which he has a 83.3 passer rating, merited the decision and he wants to build on that into the future. "I want to back up what he said and I just want to go out there and play well and deserve it," Ramsey said. "The fact that he's going with me and showing confidence in me is hopefully going to provide me with the opportunity to succeed." . . .

The Redskins have few major injury concerns this week for a change. Everyone not on the injured reserve list practiced yesterday. Springs, who missed last Saturday's game with a concussion, is listed as probable and plans to play Sunday against the Cowboys, as do LaVar Arrington (knee), Chris Samuels (ankle) and Chris Cooley (calf). . . . Both the Redskins and Cowboys enter this game still alive for the playoffs, but would need lots of help from other results to actually qualify. "We haven't been talking about that lately," Parcells said.

Staff writer Jason La Canfora contributed to this report.

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