Quinn, Hekker earn All-Pro nods

ST. LOUIS -- The trip to Hawaii that goes with a Pro Bowl invitation is perhaps the greatest tangible benefit of any postseason award, but landing a spot on the Pro Bowl team doesn't come with nearly the esteem that being named first-team All-Pro does.

On Friday afternoon, the Associated Press released its All-Pro teams for 2013, and for the first time since 2003, the Rams were represented. In fact, two Rams received the honor as defensive end Robert Quinn and punter Johnny Hekker continue to add to their postseason haul of honors.

While the Pro Bowl takes enough players to fill out two teams to play a game, the All-Pro team recognizes what the 50 voters deem to be the best at their positions in the NFL. For example, Quinn is one of two defensive ends to make the team (along with Houston's J.J. Watt), and Hekker is the only punter on the list.

Of course, it should be no surprise that either player made the list.

Quinn posted a thoroughly dominant season from his right end spot, racking up 19 sacks and seven forced fumbles, and he improved dramatically against the run. He remains a strong candidate to win the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year award.

Hekker's status might not have been as easily recognized since punter is a position that often is overlooked. But the voters got it right in seeing that Hekker put together a record-setting year in only his second season. He set the NFL record for net punting with an average of 44.2 yards per attempt as the Rams allowed just 79 return yards on his 78 attempts.

The Rams haven't had a representative on the Associated Press All-Pro first team since 2003 when receiver Torry Holt, tackle Orlando Pace and defensive end Leonard Little made it.