St. Louis Rams’ Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald Selected for Pro Bowl


The NFL’s Pro Bowl rosters were announced on Tuesday night, and for the second straight year, the St. Louis Rams will send multiple players to the game. Defensive end Robert Quinn will go for the second straight year, while rookie defensive tackle Aaron Donald was also selected.

The 24-year-old Quinn will be the first Rams defensive player to go to the Pro Bowl in two straight years since defensive back Jerry Gray went in 1988 and 1989 for the Los Angeles Rams. Quinn’s production hasn’t been on par with his 2013 numbers; he’s followed a 19-sack effort by notching 10.5 sacks this yearthrough 15 games, and he’s been held sackless in nine games, including the first five. He’s also experienced a slight drop-off as a run defender. With that said, he’s still been one of the better 4-3 defensive ends in the league this year, and he’s tied for fifth in the league in sacks at his position.

Donald has been arguably the best 4-3 defensive tackle in the league this year, and looms as a serious candidate to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Even though he was a backup for the Rams’ first four games this year, Donald still has eight sacks on the year, which places him fifth in the league in sacks among 4-3 defensive tackles. He has the most sacks of any Rams defensive tackle since D’Marco Farr in 1999, and he will be the first Rams rookie to go to the Pro Bowl since Jerome Bettis in 1993.

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In addition to the two defenders selected, punt returner Tavon Austin and cornerback Janoris Jenkins were also named as alternates for the game, which was rather surprising.

Austin had his fair share of mishaps in the return game, most notably when he ran backward into the end zone and nearly stuck the Rams with a safety while attempting to return a missed field goal in San Francisco. He did have his fair share of good moments, though, and he’s currently tied for fourth in the league with an average return of 11.2 yards. He’s also had one return touchdown on the season.

Jenkins was a more surprising choice as an alternate than Austin. The third-year corner missed two games while injured, and since his return he’s basically rotated reps with Trumaine Johnson as rookie E.J. Gaines has ascended to the top corner position. Though Jenkins has had some embarrassing failures in coverage this season, he’s returned two interceptions for touchdowns, which ultimately seems to be the most important quality in a cornerback in the eyes of Pro Bowl voters.

Many people were also surprised to see punter Johnny Hekker fail to make the team. Hekker leads the NFL in punts landed inside the 20-yard line with 32, and he has the fifth-highest net average in the league. In addition, he’s been able to take advantage of his exceptional passing skills to convert on two fakes this year. Ultimately, though, two punters with similar numbers who play on better teams (Kevin Huber of the Cincinnati Bengals and Pat McAfee of the Indianapolis Colts) were selected.

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