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Robert Griffin III, Trent Williams, Lorenzo Alexander All Selected To First Pro Bowl
(Originally posted 12/26/12, 7:03 p.m.; Updated 12/26/12, 10:32 p.m.)
ASHBURN – If he didn’t have to wait another year for the news, Trent Williams figured he’d at least have to wait until Wednesday night to find out about his selection to the Pro Bowl.
But when offensive line coach Chris Foerster called him late Wednesday afternoon with the news he’d been chosen to play in the NFL’s annual all-star game, Williams was elated.
“I just couldn’t stop smiling,” he said afterward. “It felt surreal for a second.”
Williams, along with quarterback Robert Griffin III and linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, will represent the Washington Redskins in the Pro Bowl, the league announced Wednesday. Two other players, running back Alfred Morris and linebacker London Fletcher, were each named as alternates.
Most players eschew the spotlight of a Pro Bowl selection, downplaying it as an individual honor in a team sport. Williams, though, has openly made playing in the game as his goal since being drafted in 2010, determining it to be the only suitable league honor for an offensive lineman.
He’ll back up Seattle’s Russell Okung, the starter, and join San Francisco’s Joe Staley as a reserve.
“I was super excited, man,” Williams said. “I set out at the beginning of the year – well, really, since I got drafted – just to be honored as one of the top players in the NFL, and for that to come true in my third year is truly exciting.”
Griffin was one of only two rookies selected to play in the game, joining Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh, and is the seventh rookie quarterback to earn such a distinction. He ranks first in the league with 8.27 yards per attempt, second with a 104.1 quarterback rating, fifth with a 66.4 completion percentage and has thrown just five interceptions, the fewest amongst starting quarterbacks.
Joe Namath, Bob Griese, Dan Marino, Vince Young, Cam Newton and Andy Dalton are the only other quarterbacks to earn the nod in their first seasons. Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck was not chosen for the AFC team; Griffin will join Atlanta’s Matt Ryan in backing up Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
“I’ve always said my whole football career that you don’t play for awards,” Griffin said earlier in the day, before the announcement was made. “Those just come. You don’t say that you’re going to win the Heisman. You don’t say that you’re going to win MVP. You go out and prove it on the field, and if everyone feels that way, they’ll give you that award.”
Alexander, a linebacker, was elected as the NFC’s designated special teams player, honoring him for 20 special teams tackles made during the season. Alexander, who has 43 total tackles, has been the Redskins’ special teams player of the year each of the last two seasons and has also served as the special teams captain during all three years with Mike Shanahan as the head coach.
He originally broke into the NFL with Carolina in 2005 as an undrafted offensive lineman out of California; he made the transition to defensive lineman, then outside linebacker, and, this season, inside linebacker.
“It’s just a huge honor,” Alexander said. “I’m very humbled by everybody voting me in, from the fans, coaches and players. Just a credit to what [special teams coaches] Danny Smith and Richard Hightower’s doing on special teams, along with the rest of my teammates … everybody that’s been contributing to allow me to do what I do.”
Fletcher has played in the last three Pro Bowls as an alternate each time. Morris was passed over in favor of Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch and San Francisco’s Frank Gore.
“Happy for those guys,” Morris wrote in a text message. “Love to see my teammates getting the recognition they deserve.”