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Friday, January 22, 2010
By the decade: NFC West linebackers

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

No NFC West linebacker started more games or earned as many Pro Bowl berths as Julian Peterson during the first decade of the 2000s.

At his best, Patrick Willis was arguably better. The same might be said for Lofa Tatupu, a key member of the Seahawks' 2005 Super Bowl team.

But Peterson stands above all for sustained production over the decade. He had more opportunities, collecting 46 sacks in nine seasons with the 49ers and Seahawks.

This was a three-man race between Peterson, Willis and Tatupu. I gave Willis the edge over Tatupu for the second spot based on having more first-team All-Pro selections and because his career was ascending as the decade closed. Injuries limited Tatupu over the last couple seasons.