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Early Returns: PSR’s NFL All-Pro Team for September

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QB: Tom Brady, New England: Sure, the month ended with a four-interception performance against the Bills. All the same, Brady threw four touchdowns in that game to give him a league-leading 11 scores in September. He also laps the field in yardage and already has an NFL-record tying 99-yard pass in 2011.

RBs: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia; Fred Jackson, Buffalo
FB: Vonta Leach, Baltimore

McCoy, a former-Pitt product, is looking like a vintage Marshall Faulk one month into the NFL season. In an offense loaded with weapons, Shady has become the dagger, slashing opposing defenses on the ground and through the air. All Jackson has done this season is help carry the Bills to an undefeated September with a league-leading 6.4 yards per carry and a fourth-best 303 rushing yards. Leach, who led the way for Arian Foster last season, helped Ray Rice pound the Steelers defense in a Week 1 beatdown.

WR: Calvin Johnson, Detroit; Wes Welker, New England; Mike Wallace, Steelers
TE: Rob Gronkowski, New England

With six touchdowns in three September contests, it is becoming clear that opposing defenses have no answer for the nightmare that is Calvin Johnson. Wes Welker is the league leader in both receptions and yards after a 16-catch, 217-yard performance in Week 3. Wallace has evolved from the league’s best deep threat to one of its best receivers. He was the closest receiver to Welker in terms of receptions and yards (2nd in both categories). Gronkowski has put up numbers that would make most wide receivers blush: top-10 in yardage and five touchdowns.

OT: Jared Veldheer, Oakland; Joe Thomas, Cleveland
OG: Andy Levitre, Buffalo; T.J. Lang, Green Bay
C: Eric Wood, Buffalo

Levitre and Wood have been huge contributors for the Bills, who finished September as one the league’s five-best offensive units. The Bills have been downright dominant on the ground, especially when running right through the middle of the offensive line (where Levitre and Wood roam). They’re pretty good in pass protection, too; QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was sacked just twice in three games. T.J Lang has been a pleasant surprise for Green Bay after beating out first-round pick Derrick Sherrod for the starting left guard spot.

On the outside, Veldheer had a strong September for a Raiders team one Bills-comeback away from starting the season 3-0. Joe Thomas is a familiar face on All-Pro lists. He’s consistently one of the league’s best tackles; that hasn’t changed.

DE: Jared Allen, Minnesota; Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants
DT: Cullen Jenkins, Philadelphia; Ahtyba Rubin, Cleveland

Allen is once again showing that he’s one of the league’s premier pass-rushers. Run-stops, sacks, forced fumbles; the guy already has a pick and a few passes defensed. He just might be the league’s most-complete end. Strahan, Umenyiora, Tuck, and now Pierre-Paul; the second-year end has continued the Giants’ rich tradition of churning out pass rushers.

Jenkins began 2011 by picking up a ring with the Green Bay Packers. He began the new season by notching four sacks for Philadelphia, tops for a DT through September. Rubin racked up 82 tackles as a lineman last season, and has continued that level of production with a strong start this season.

OLB: Terrell Suggs, Baltimore; DeMarcus Ware, Dallas
ILB: D’Qwell Jackson, Cleveland; Ray Lewis, Baltimore

Rubin has nothing on fellow-Brown D’Qwell Jackson, who has become a tackling machine for Cleveland, while tying Rubin for the team lead in sacks. He has become the leader of a respectable Browns defense. There’s no better defensive leader than Ray Lewis, who is still refusing to act his age. The 36-year-old Lewis remains one of the league’s best inside linebackers.

Lining up next to Lewis is Suggs, who single-handedly whooped the AFC Champion Steelers to the tune of three sacks. DeMarcus Ware, a former NFL-sack leader, is one pace to lead the league again after a month of pass rushing work that has become all too familiar.

CB: Darelle Revis, New York Jets; Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh
S: Morgan Burnett, Green Bay; Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh

Other players had more flash and more stats in September, but Revis and Taylor established themselves as the top two corners in the NFL’s first month of action. Both are the rare type of corner that shadows the opponent’s best receiver, and both have essentially erased their matchup in every September contest.
On the other hand, Burnett makes the team because of his stats. The Packers safety is near the top of the league in multiple defensive categories, including passes defensed, interceptions, and total tackles. He’ll continue to carry the load for the undefeated Packers with fellow-safety Nick Collins on the shelf. Polamalu made a late September push to get on this month’s All-Pro squad, making a very Polamalu-like play in a Week 3 win over the Colts. Right place, right time, all the time.

K: Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland
P: Brandon Fields, Miami
KR/PR: Darren Sproles, New Orleans

Janikowski has the NFL’s best leg and showed that with an NFL-record-tying 63-yard field goal. He’s also one of the league’s best kickoff men. Fields boasts a strong average on his punts and downed half of them inside the 20. Sproles made the Saints completely forget about Reggie Bush with great returns on both kicks and punts.
 

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