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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

USA TODAY Sports Weekly's All-Pro Team




By Howard Balzer, USA TODAY Sports Weekly

January 25, 2006

Picking an All-Pro team and honoring the game's best producers is a thankless task. Because when these teams are published, just as when the Pro Bowl teams are selected each year, the emphasis always seems to go to the players not picked.

Here at USA TODAY Sports Weekly, we don't pick eight wide receivers or six quarterbacks like the Pro Bowl does. What you see here is the best of the best.
We also pick a team based on the way the game is played. For example, there is a left and right tackle; a right and left defensive end. Also recognized are those non-starters who contribute in significant ways, such as nickel backs and third receivers.

Clearly, there are many superb players in a great league who won't be mentioned. But this is the NFL's cream of the crop for the 2005 season.



DEFENSE
•Free safety: Bob Sanders, Indianapolis. After getting off to a slow start as a rookie in 2004 because of an offseason foot injury, Sanders' performance against the run and pass helped the Colts improve from 29th to 11th in overall defense. Indianapolis allowed 370.6 yards a game in 2004 but just 307.1 this season. The Colts' points allowed dropped from 351 to 247.

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