Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Six Eagles earn Pro Bowl berths

Six Philadelphia Eagles have earned a spot on the NFC roster for the 2010 Pro Bowl: K David Akers, DE Trent Cole, WR/KR DeSean Jackson, T Jason Peters, CB Asante Samuel, and FB Leonard Weaver.

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. The six-man contingent represents the most the team has sent to a Pro Bowl since the 2004 campaign, when 10 Eagles earned trips to NFL’s all-star game.

The AFC-NFC Pro Bowl game will be played on Sunday, January 31, 2010, at Dolphin Stadium in South Florida. The game will take place one week prior to Super Bowl 44 and will be broadcast on ESPN.

Akers leads the NFL with 139 points and 32 field goals in 2009, while connecting on a career-high 88.9% of his attempts. He tied his own team record by nailing 17 field goals in a row, en route to earning NFC special teams 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 (11/29 vs. Washington and 12/27 vs. Denver). His 12 field goals of 40-plus yards this season lead the NFC. With four career Pro Bowl selections, Akers is now tied for the 3rd in NFL history for Pro Bowl berths among kickers. Only Morten Andersen (7) and Jan Stenerud (6) have registered more. Akers is tied with former Eagles Gary Anderson and Sam Baker, as well as Jim Bakken and George Blanda.

Originally a 5th round selection of the Eagles in 2005, Cole earned his second Pro Bowl nomination. He is the first Eagles defensive end drafted in the 5th-round-or-later to garner multiple Pro Bowl honors since Clyde Simmons (9th 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 5th in franchise history and has registered the highest sack total ever for an Eagles draft pick in his first five seasons.

One of the league’s most dynamic players in 2009, Jackson sparkled as both a wide receiver and punt returner in just his 2nd NFL season. The 23-year old Jackson leads the NFL in yards per catch (18.7) and 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.

Regarded as one of the league’s finest offensive tackles, Peters 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 3rd highest scoring offense (28.6 points per game), and 10th ranked offense in terms of total yards (366.5 yards per game). Originally signed by the Bills as a rookie free agent tight end in 2004, Peters made the full-time switch to tackle in 2005. He has started all but one game for the Eagles at left tackle in 2009.

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 9 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 11/29/09 and vs. Tampa Bay on 10/11/09) 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.

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 (2), 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.

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