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Best of the best: Bobby Wagner, Michael Dickson are Seahawks All-Pros for 2018 season

Bobby Wagner details keys against Cowboys, containing Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper

Seahawks leader and linebacker Bobby Wagner talks about the difficulty in tackling Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and the impact Amari Cooper has made since the Cowboys acquired him from the Raiders.
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Seahawks leader and linebacker Bobby Wagner talks about the difficulty in tackling Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and the impact Amari Cooper has made since the Cowboys acquired him from the Raiders.

Bobby Wagner’s best season yet has made him an All-Pro again.

Michael Dickson is already an All-Pro, in his first NFL season.

Wagner, Seattle’s do-it-all middle linebacker and Dickson, its unique rookie punter, were named to the 2018 All-Pro team by The Associated Press in voting among media members across the country.

Wagner just missed being a unanimous All-Pro; he got 49 of the 50 votes. I don’t want to meet the guy or gal who didn’t vote for him.

Wagner is an All-Pro for the fourth time in his seven-year career, all with the Seahawks, and for the third consecutive season. He was the constant on a defense that has eight new starters this season and was missing K.J. Wright, his Pro Bowl linebacking partner and great friend, 11 times in 16 games this regular season because of knee surgery and pain.

Wagner goes against Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL’s rushing leader with 1,434 yards in the regular season, Saturday night in an NFC wild-card playoff game in Arlington, Texas.

Wagner missed just one tackle all regular season, for the lowest missed-tackle rate since Pro Football Focus began measuring that statistic in 2006.

Asked this week if he can ever remember not being a sure tackle, Wagner playfully scoffed.

“Sloppy tackler? Maybe when I was an infant and I was barely walking. It’s kind of hard to bring people down. Legs weren’t fully developed yet,” he said, grinning.

“Nah, when you think of a linebacker, you think of a guy that knows how to tackle. So when I chose to play linebacker, I was like ‘All right, I’m going to make sure that that’s one area of my game that nobody can question, my ability to tackle.’

“It’s something that you focus on, you take pride in. And when you play those guys that talk trash after they make you miss, you don’t want them to talk. So what better way to shut them up by not missing?”

The five-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl 48 champion is the first player in franchise history to record seven-consecutive 100-tackle seasons.

Dickson has been everything Seattle hoped and more since the Seahawks traded up to get the native Australian and former Aussie Rules Football player in the fifth round of this spring’s draft. The first punter or kicker drafted in the Pete Carroll-John Schneider leadership era has justified the trade and choice.

Last month he became the first rookie punter selected to the Pro Bowl in 33 years, since the Rams’ Dale Hatcher in 1985.

Dickson is Seattle’s first All-Pro and Pro Bowl punter since Rick Tuten in 1994.

Dickson was the NFC’s special teams player of the month for November after 16 punts averaged 53.0 yards, with a net average of 47.4 yards. Both were league bests. He was second in the NFL this season in punting average at 48.2.

More than that, he became something of a national phenomenon for what he did late in Seattle’s game Oct. 28 at Detroit.

With the Seahawks leading 28-14 coach Pete Carroll told Dickson to run out of the end zone for an intentional safety on fourth down with 2:18 left in the game. The coaches decided Dickson would take the safety to keep Seattle up by two touchdowns late. That was preferred over risking a blocked punt and Lions touchdown or Detroit getting good field position to score one, since Dickson was lined up to punt along the back line of the end zone.

Instead, the rookie ignored Carroll’s and Schneider’s instructions. And common sense.

He took off running. He freelanced around right end.

Carroll’s reaction as Dickson took off: “A few” expletives, the coach said.

But the expletives turned to superlatives as Dickson ran free on fourth and 8 for 9 yards, to the Seahawks 12-yard line. His audacious first down allowed the Seahawks’ offense to run out all but the final 6 seconds of the team’s fourth victory in five games.

Left tackle Duane Brown was named second-team All-Pro by the AP.

Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.

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