Fans in the Valley have plenty of reasons to be upset with the 5-11 Arizona Cardinals this season, but the play of inside linebacker Daryl Washington isn’t one of them.
In just his third season in the league, the Cardinals’ former second-round selection out of TCU has matured into one of the elite players at his position. However, Pro Bowl voters (NFL players, coaches and fans) must not have taken note. Wednesday, Arizona’s leader in sacks (9) and total tackles (123) was selected as an alternate member on the NFC team.
San Francisco 49ers’ inside linebacker duo NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis will start for the conference instead on January 27.
Following Thursday’s practice, Washington was not shy about venting his disappointment after not being voted in as a Pro Bowl starter.
“Yeah, I’m kind of disappointed,” Washington said of the vote. “I guess today’s practice kind of showed it a bit. Guys were kind of encouraging me.
“I thought I really had it in the books, but you’ve got to give credit to those guys in front of me, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis.”
With a sack against Bowman and Willis’ 49ers on Sunday, Washington would become the first Cardinals player in franchise history to record 10 sacks and 100 tackles in a season. Still, he’s not sure if there’s anything else he could have done in 2012 to persuade voters.
“I don’t know what I could have done,” said Washington. “Maybe I could have gotten that 10th or 11th sack or something and had the record for the most sacks by an inside linebacker. I don’t know. It’s added motivation for next year.”
Head coach Ken Whisenhunt was asked about Washington’s apparent snub and suggested that maybe age played a factor in the decision.
“Daryl’s had a good year,” Whisenhunt said. “Sometimes with young players, especially ones that kind of come out of nowhere like he did, it seems like it’s a year behind.
“I think it’s good that he’s gotten the recognition, but his stats show he should be in consideration [to start for the NFC].”
If Washington is able to record a sack in Week 17, he would become only the fourth inside linebacker since 1985 to have 10 sacks and 100 tackles in a season. He has also an interception and two fumbles forced through 15 games.