- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Not one of the Redskins who played in last year's Pro Bowl has lived up to those standards this season.
Running back Stephen Davis, who ran for 28 touchdowns combined during his Pro Bowl seasons of 1999 and 2000, has just three this year. Defensive end Marco Coleman has dropped from a career-high 12 sacks to just 21/2. Tight end Stephen Alexander has missed most of the year with injuries. Cornerback Champ Bailey has been beaten more often than in the past.
Washington's pair of losses on "Monday Night Football" and its 6-8 record don't enhance the chances of any of its players being chosen for the Feb. 10 game in Honolulu either. Still, the Redskins averaged three Pro Bowl selections the past seven years despite making the playoffs just once during that span. So when the NFC coaches and players vote on their squad this week, at least a couple of Redskins should be included.
Strongside linebacker LaVar Arrington is Washington's most deserving candidate. The second pick in the 2000 draft has delivered plenty of hard hits and more than his share of big plays and is tied for the team lead with 116 tackles. It was Arrington's 67-yard touchdown return of an interception against Carolina in Week 6 that turned around the season for the then-winless Redskins, who rallied to win that day and their next four games.
"LaVar has had a tremendous season," Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "He made four or five plays [against Chicago on Sunday] that I'm not sure anybody else in football could make. He's a remarkable playmaker. I don't know if I've ever been around a player that has greater energy when the ball is snapped."
Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks is a Pro Bowl regular, and Chicago's Rosevelt Colvin and the New York Giants' Jessie Armstead are serious candidates, but Arrington should make it. Fans have given him a head start by giving him the most votes of any outside linebacker.
"I really appreciate the fans' voting," Arrington said. "You always want to have a sense of accomplishment. The Pro Bowl is always a goal. You like to reach the goals you set for yourself. It would be nice to get it."
Pro Bowls are becoming routine for Davis, runner-up to Arrington in the Quarterback Club's voting for Redskin of the Year. However, Davis' lack of touchdowns is a minus, and with St. Louis' Marshall Faulk and Green Bay's Ahman Green cinches, the last spot is among Davis, New Orleans' Ricky Williams and San Francisco's Garrison Hearst. Figure Hearst gets the nod with the help of the feel-good story of his comeback from a two-year injury layoff.
Offensive tackles Chris Samuels and Jon Jansen open up lots of holes for Davis while also keeping pass rushers like Hugh Douglas and Michael Strahan away from quarterback Tony Banks, but their stellar play might not be enough. Even though Saints perennial Pro Bowl tackle William Roaf is injured, Samuels' chances are hurt by Washington's lack of offensive production. And since left tackles get more attention because of their usually greater pass-blocking challenges, right tackle Jansen has even less of a shot at a trip to Hawaii.
"The Pro Bowl is one of my top goals, but if it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't, it doesn't," Samuels said. "I've only given up one sack [to Douglas], but I don't know what to expect."
The Rams' Orlando Pace is a lock. The Bears' Blake Brockermeyer plays the left side on the line that has allowed the fewest sacks. And the Packers' Chad Clifton is part of the NFC's third-ranked offense.
Bailey is a key ingredient in the NFC's fifth-rated pass defense, and he started the Pro Bowl last year in just his second season. However, he hasn't been as effective this year while covering the opposing top receiver almost every game, unlike 1999 when Darrell Green often did so or last year when Deion Sanders handled that duty. Big receivers like Arizona's David Boston and Chicago's Marty Booker have given Bailey problems, and Green Bay's Bill Schroeder and Dallas' Rocket Ismail burned him deep.
"I've played well enough to go back," Bailey said. "But there are a lot of guys with more interceptions [like Tampa Bay's Ronde Barber with nine and Carolina's Doug Evans with eight, compared to Bailey's two], so you never know what's going to happen."
We know the Rams' Aeneas Williams is going to his seventh Pro Bowl. Philadelphia's Troy Vincent should also be chosen, leaving Bailey battling for the final spot.
The last Redskin with a shot is Michael Bates, the NFC's special teams selection the past three seasons with Carolina. Washington, last in kickoff coverage in 2000, is the league's best this year with Bates leading the way.
"I'm very happy with how much progress we've made covering kicks," five-time Pro Bowl pick Bates said while de-emphasizing his own role in that success. "It's hard to say how they decide who goes to the Pro Bowl. I know I'm not losing any sleep over it."

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