The Miami Dolphins now have their most Pro Bowl selections since the 2003 season with four, as defensive end Randy Starks has been added to the AFC squad's roster to replace Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel.
A nine-year NFL veteran, Keisel was added to the Pro Bowl roster as a replacement for injured Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, but was forced to pull out when his Steelers advanced to the Super Bowl yesterday with a win over the New York Jets.
Starks will join Dolphins outside linebacker Cameron Wake and long snapper John Denney as the third member of the team in Honolulu for this coming Sunday's Pro Bowl. Starting left tackle Jake Long earned his third-consecutive Pro Bowl selection, but dropped out due to a shoulder injury he endured through most of the second half of the season.
The selection actually comes about a year too late, as Starks was easily one of the most dominant 3-4 defensive ends in all of football last season with 56 tackles and seven sacks.
Asked to move back to defensive end during the season when Jared Odrick was lost for the year, Starks shifted back to his old spot after spending the entire offseason bulking up and working at nose tackle to replace the retired Jason Ferguson.
The position shuffling clearly hurt Starks' productivity, as he totaled just 30 tackles and three sacks and was probably the fourth-most consistent lineman on the team behind nose tackle Paul Soliai and defensive ends Kendall Langford and Tony McDaniel.
Originally drafted by the Tennessee Titans in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, Starks signed a five-year, $21 million contract with $7 million guaranteed as an unrestricted free agent in 2008.
A two-time All-ACC selection at Maryland, this Pro Bowl selection is the first of Starks' seven-year career.
Jake Long Selected to AP All-Pro Team
The honors keep piling up for Dolphins franchise left tackle Jake Long, who was the lone member of the team selected to the Associated Press All-Pro Team for 2010.
Voted to the Pro Bowl for his third-consecutive season in 2010, Long has been named to various All-NFL and All-Pro teams across the media over the past month.
Despite playing nearly half the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, Long really turned in just one bad game (against the Bears in Week 11 just five days after his injury) and was easily one of the best tackles in football through most of his 16 starts.
Drafted first overall out of Michigan in 2008, Long now has three AP All-Pro selections and three Pro Bowl selections in as many seasons.
While it's still a long way away and health will play a factor, it's safe to say that Long could be headed for enshrinement one day if he keeps up this pace and keeps playing at the level he has thus far.
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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and is currently a programming coordinator for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.