First of all, congratulations to the six Eagles players selected to play in this years Pro Bowl: kicker David Akers, defensive end Trent Cole, fullback Leonard Weaver,
wide receiver/kick returner Desean Jackson, cornerback Asante Samuel, and offensive tackle Jason Peters.
The six-man contingent represents the most the team has sent to a Pro Bowl since 2004, when 10 Eagles earned trips.
Based on their respective performances this season, each of the aforementioned players is deserving of their selection and we’ll break down their efforts in just a moment, but first, I would like to talk about who didn’t get the nod. Cornerback Sheldon Brown was given the cold shoulder once again, which is a shame because he certainly would have received my vote this year.
With 22 pass deflections, five interceptions with one returned for a touchdown, and a fumble return for score, Sheldon Brown is a player with Pro Bowl credentials but zero Pro Bowl selections.
For those of you wondering about Donovan McNabb, the three NFC quarterbacks selected this year were Drew Brees, Brett Favre, and Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile tight end Brett Celek took a backseat to San Francisco’s Vernon Davis and Dallas’ Jason Witten.
Heck, even perennial Pro-Bowler Tony Gonzalez got the snuff.
As for the six Eagles who did get selected...
David Akers leads the NFL with 139 points and 32 field goals this season, while connecting on a career-high 88.9 percent of his attempts. He tied his own team record by nailing 17 field goals in a row, en route to earning NFC special team’s player of the month honors in November.
He has also made two game-winning kicks in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter this season (Nov. 29 vs. Washington and Dec. 27 vs. Denver). With four career Pro Bowl selections, Akers is now tied for the third in NFL history for Pro Bowl berths among kickers. Only Morten Andersen (seven) and Jan Stenerud (six) have registered more.
Trent Cole earned his second Pro Bowl nomination. He is the first Eagles defensive end drafted in the fifth round or later to garner multiple Pro Bowl honors since Clyde Simmons (ninth round selection in 1986), who earned two Pro Bowl berths in Philadelphia.
Cole has registered a career-high 12.5 sacks this season, which ranks fifth in the NFL and third in the NFC. He leads the Eagles in sacks and hurries (26), and ranks second in total tackles (90). With 47 career sacks, Cole ranks fifth in franchise history and has registered the highest sack total ever for an Eagles draft pick in his first five seasons.
DeSean Jackson, one of the league's most dynamic players, sparkled as both a wide receiver and punt returner in just his second NFL season. The 23-year old Jackson leads the NFL in yards per catch (18.7), punt return average (16.0), and tied an NFL record by chalking up eight touchdowns of 50+ yards in a season, tying Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch (1951) and Devin Hester (2007).
In fact, Jackson’s average touchdown has covered 52.8 yards, the highest ever in league annals among players with 10-or-more scores. A second round draft pick of the Eagles in 2008, Jackson became the second Eagles wide receiver to earn a Pro Bowl berth in the Andy Reid era, joining Terrell Owens in 2005*. The last Eagle draft pick to make the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver was Fred Barnett in 1993*.
Jackson is also the first player in team history to be voted in as a return specialist. As a matter of fact, according to the NFL, Jackson is believed to be the first player in league history to be selected at both wide receiver and kick returner in the same season.
Jason Peters, regarded as one of the league’s finest offensive tackles earned his third consecutive Pro Bowl berth and his first as an Eagle. He was acquired in a blockbuster trade by the Eagles from the Buffalo Bills this past offseason. Peters has helped pave the way for the league’s third highest scoring offense (28.6 points per game), and 10th ranked offense in terms of total yards (366.5 yards per game).
Asante Samuel earned his third consecutive Pro Bowl selection, the longest current streak among NFL cornerbacks. He became the first Eagles cornerback to post consecutive Pro Bowl berths since Troy Vincent earned five straight from 2000-04. Samuel leads the NFL with nine interceptions (tied with safeties Darren Sharper and Jairus Byrd) in 2009 to go along with 42 tackles, nine passes defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
He has a pair of two-interception performances this year (vs. Washington on Nov. 29 and vs. Tampa Bay on Oct. 11) and six during his career. No player in the NFL has more interceptions than Samuel’s 29 since the start of the 2006 season.
Samuel was signed by the Eagles on the first day of the free agent signing period in 2008 after spending his first five NFL seasons with the New England Patriots.
Leonard Weaver became the first Eagles fullback to garner Pro Bowl honors since Bill Barnes did so three times from 1958-60. He joined the Eagles as a free agent signing this past offseason and has gone on to register career highs and lead all NFL fullbacks in rushing attempts (69) and rushing yards (321).
He also has a career high in rushing touchdowns (two) while adding 15 receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Originally signed as a rookie free agent by Seattle in 2005, Weaver is the only Carson-Newman College product ever to earn Pro Bowl honors.
The AFC-NFC Pro Bowl game will be played on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010, at Dolphin Stadium in South Florida, one week prior to the Super Bowl.
Needless to say, these six players are hoping their trip to Miami will be for one game and one game only, and it’s not the Pro Bowl.