<
>

Rams barely a blip on fans' Pro Bowl radar

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams have barely registered as a blip on the radar when it comes to postseason awards and accolades for the better part of the past decade. The Pro Bowl has been no exception.

At 5-7, the Rams again seem to be on the outside looking in for such recognition this time around. Although fan voting counts for just one third of the formula for determining who is invited to the Pro Bowl, the Rams aren't making much of a dent in the early returns for that third. Keeping in mind that the NFC-AFC format is no more so all voting is for players regardless of conference, the Rams currently have no players in the top two at any position.

They do have a few players who are in the mix and could surge in late fan voting, and who will almost certainly garner more votes from coaches and peers to complete the voting formula.

Leading the way is defensive end Robert Quinn, who sits third among defensive ends behind Houston's J.J. Watt and Buffalo's Mario Williams. Quinn is as close as the Rams have to a lock to make his first Pro Bowl. He's almost certain to get a lot of love from the player and coach votes.

Elsewhere, left tackle Jake Long and punt returner Tavon Austin are in the mix among the fan vote. Long sits fifth among all offensive tackles and Austin is sixth among punt returners.

Of course, the most glaring omission among Rams is Johnny Hekker, who currently doesn't sit among the top 10 vote-getters despite holding a record pace for net punting. Kansas City's Dustin Colquitt currently leads at the punter position.

Hekker's performance has certainly been Pro Bowl worthy but it seems punter might be a position where many players and coaches might not pay particular attention to who is playing well and simply go on name value.

The Rams haven't had enough consistent performers to earn a slew of Pro Bowl berths but through three-quarters of the season it's fair to point to Quinn and Hekker as clearly deserving of trips to Hawaii.