Every NFL franchise has a host of players who contribute to the success of the team but have never earned Pro Bowl recognition.
For years, inside linebacker
Another Redskins example? Fullback
Who are some current Redskins who could emerge as first-time Pro Bowlers in 2011? Here are five who could earn a spot on the league’s annual all-star game:
-- LORENZO ALEXANDER
Referred to as the “One Man Gang,” Alexander’s biggest assets are his versatility and team-first attitude. In addition to starting at outside linebacker last season, he was a special teams ace, posting a team-high 20 tackles on kick coverage.
Originally drafted as a defensive tackle in 2006, Alexander has filled in wherever the team has needed him – along the defensive line, offensive guard, tight end and linebacker. He compiled 62 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble as an outside linebacker last season.
-- ANTHONY ARMSTRONG
Armstrong’s professional football career began quietly. He passed through all seven rounds of the 2005 NFL Draft before signing with the Odessa Roughnecks of the Intense Football League. He later signed with the Dallas Desperados of the Arena Football League before finally being given his chance in the NFL.
Armstrong has the size, speed and ability to be a top option at wide receiver. Last season marked his first as a fixture in the Redskins’ lineup, and he compiled 44 catches for 871 receiving yards – a whopping 19.8 yards per reception – and three touchdowns.
-- O.J. ATOGWE
Already one of the top safeties and defensive playmakers in the NFC, Atogwe is reunited with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett in Washington and a system that supports what he does best: force turnovers. Just like
With 22 interceptions and 16 forced fumbles in the last six seasons, Atogwe should benefit from playing with other ball hawks in the secondary. The talent level alone should force passes in his direction. It’s not inconceivable to envision a starting NFC Pro Bowl lineup with Atogwe and
-- BRANDON BANKS
Banks certainly performed well in his capacity as a kick returner last year, but training camp could bring competition from promising rookies
In 2010, Banks averaged 11.3 yards per return on punts and 25.1 yards per return on kickoffs, numbers that he needs to build on in 2011. His 1,564 total return yards ranked fifth in the NFL last year, numbers that could have been higher if he was the primary returner all year. If Banks can stay healthy and develop his game further, he has the talent to be a Pro Bowl-caliber returner in 2011.
-- LARON LANDRY
If there’s one Redskin worthy of making his first Pro Bowl, it’s Landry. He emerged as a dynamic force and playmaker for the defense last season, posting XX tackles, third-best on the team, and one sack. His one interception came in Week 5 vs. Green Bay in which he picked off quarterback Aaron Rodgers to help set up a game-winning overtime field goal in a 16-13 victory.
Landry’s move to strong safety last season paid dividends for the defense. He was able to move closer to the line of scrimmage and get involved in more tackles. His penchant for hard hits remains unmatched. Landry was a first alternate for the Pro Bowl last season, so he should be able to take the next step in 2011.