Breaking: Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard selected as Pro Bowl starter

Hal Habib
Palm Beach Post
Cornerback Xavien Howard intercepts a pass intended for the Chiefs' Tyreek Hill.

Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard was chosen as a Pro Bowl starter as rosters were released Monday night.

Howard was a Pro Bowl starter following the 2018 season, when he also made second-team All-Pro.

Bypassed were Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders and punter Matt Haack.

Howard, 27, leads the NFL with nine interceptions and is tied for second in passes defensed with 17. Howard, who has one forced fumble, is receiving attention as a candidate for defensive player of the year.

Howard's 21 interceptions since 2017 are the most in the league. His nine this year are second in Dolphins history and the most since 1967, when cornerback Dick Westmoreland had 10.

The last time an NFL player had nine interceptions in a season was Chicago’s Tim Jennings in 2012, when he also had nine. If Howard gets one more interception this season, he will match the Dolphins’ record and be the first NFL player since San Diego’s Antonio Cromartie (10) in 2007 with double-digit interceptions in a season.

“I feel like if I continue to play the way I’ve been playing, I feel like it will take care of itself," Howard said this month when asked about individual honors. It’s an honor for guys to mention my name for defensive player of the year. If I continue to play the way I’ve been playing, I feel like everything will take care of itself.”

Three Dolphins have been named defensive player of the year: safety Dick Anderson (1973), end Doug Betters (1983) and end Jason Taylor (2006).

Howard is the fourth cornerback in Dolphins history to earn multiple Pro Bowl selections and third to be chosen as a starter, joining Sam Madison (1999-2002), Patrick Surtain (2002-04) and Brent Grimes (2013-15).

This marks the sixth time in eight years the Dolphins have had a member of the secondary earn a Pro Bowl selection.

The game, originally scheduled for Las Vegas, will not be played this year because of the pandemic.

Sanders flirted with a perfect season for half the year. He is now 30-of-33 on field-goal attempts (90.9 percent, which ranks 12th) and perfect on 32 extra points. He also is eight-of-nine from 50-plus yards, tying Denver's Brandon McManus and Atlanta's Koo Younghoe for most made from that range.

Haack, in his fourth NFL season, led early AFC fan voting. Haack is averaging 44.6 yards per punt with a net of 41.3. He has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line 23 times against two touchbacks.

Former Dolphins Laremy Tunsil and Minkah Fitzpatrick were chosen. Tunsil is an offensive tackle for Houston; Fitzpatrick is a Pittsburgh safety.

The quarterbacks are Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Deshaun Watson (AFC) and Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray (NFC).

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