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All-ACL team: NFL's rehab warriors

Von Miller tore his right ACL on Dec. 22, 2013. Less than nine months later, he returned to the field. Thomas Campbell/USA TODAY Sports

In recent years, sports medicine has made tremendous strides in the success rates of knee reconstruction. Many NFL stars have recovered from torn ACLs to play as well or better than before the injury. Players are now routinely returning to competition in less than a year from what was once a career-ending injury.

With that in mind, we present the All-ACL team for defensive players and specialists below. Click here for the All-ACL offensive team.

ESPN.com's All-ACL Team: Defense/specialists

LB: Von Miller

Injury date: Week 16, 2013. Return date: Week 1, 2014.

Key before/after facts: Miller is actually accumulating sacks at a faster rate (one per game) since the injury than he did before (0.88 per game). At this pace, he'll challenge his career high of 18.5 sacks from 2012.

Honorable mention: NaVorro Bowman, 49ers; Chad Greenway, Vikings.

LB: Melvin Ingram

Injury date: Spring 2013. Return date: Week 11, 2013.

Key before/after facts: Ingram played 16 games as a rookie, but since the ACL injury, he has played in only seven of a possible 26 contests. He has two sacks in those games.

LB: Thomas Davis, Panthers

Injury date: Week 2, 2011. Return date: Week 1, 2012.

Key before/after facts: The injury was the third torn ACL of Davis' career, and simply getting back on the field has been an extraordinary accomplishment. Since then, he's played in 41 of a possible 43 games, racking up 306 tackles in the process. In the only comparable portion of his earlier career, Davis was credited with 289 tackles in 46 games.

DE: Chris Clemons

Injury date: Wild-card playoff round, January 2013.
Return date: Week 3, 2013.

Key before/after facts: Clemons has played in 24 consecutive games since his return, but his sack rate has dropped. He has 8.5 sacks over that span (35 percent) compared to 53.4 in his previous 116 games (46.1). He had totaled at least 11 sacks in each of the final three seasons before the injury.

DE: Dominique Easley

Injury date: Week 4, 2013 (college).
Return date: Week 1, 2014.

Key before/after facts: The Patriots were so sold on Easley that they made him a first-round draft pick despite the ongoing ACL recovery. Easley has appeared in nine of 10 games, including two starts, and has 10 tackles and a sack in 231 snaps.

DT: Geno Atkins

Injury date: Week 9, 2013. Return date: Week 1, 2014.

Key before/after facts: Atkins has managed one sack in 10 games since returning this season, a sack rate of 0.15 per game. In 41 games prior to the injury, he amassed 26 sacks, a rate of 0.63 per game. Pro Football Focus has credited him with 22 hurries, tied for second in the NFL among defensive tackles.

Honorable mention: Tank Carradine, 49ers; Henry Melton, Cowboys

DT: Ray McDonald

Injury date: Two ACL injuries in 2005 (college).
Return date: Week 1, 2006 (college).

Key before/after facts: McDonald has played an eight-season NFL career (and counting). Since the start of the 2008 season, he has missed just four games.

CB: Chris Harris

Injury date: Divisional playoff round, January 2014.
Return date: Week 1, 2014.

Key before/after facts: Harris hasn't missed a start and has two interceptions in 10 games, one shy of his career high for a season. Through Week 11, he was Pro Football Focus' top-ranked cornerback. According to PFF, opposing quarterbacks have a league-low 41.7 passer rating on passes thrown into his coverage.

Honorable mention: Lardarius Webb, Ravens.

CB: Darrelle Revis

Injury date: Week 5, 2012. Return date: Week 1, 2013.

Key before/after facts: Revis is intercepting passes at a lower rate since his injury (0.15 per game) than before (0.24), but Pro Football Focus rated him as its top cornerback in 2013 and has him No. 7 this season.

S: Eric Berry

Injury date: Week 1, 2011. Return date: Week 1, 2012.

Key before/after facts: Berry has four interceptions in 36 games since the injury after recording four in 17 games before it. Still, his overall post-injury play has been recognized. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2012 and 2013 and won first-team All-Pro honors last season.

Honorable mention: Brandon Meriweather, Redskins

S: Tyrann Mathieu

Injury date: Week 14, 2013. Return date: Week 2, 2014.

Key before/after facts: Mathieu has played in nine games, starting three, since his return. He's intercepted one pass and defensed a total of four after intercepting two and defensing nine in 13 games before the injury. He has worked to regain confidence and is currently Pro Football Focus' No. 31-ranked safety.

PR/KR: Travis Benjamin

Injury date: Week 8, 2013. Return date: Week 1, 2014.

Key before/after facts: Benjamin has not yet regained his explosiveness as a returner. He averaged 37 yards per kickoff return and 16.2 yards per punt return before the injury. Those numbers are 21.0 and 2.7, respectively, since then.

K: Mike Nugent

Injury date: Week 10, 2010. Return date: Week 1, 2011.

Key before/after facts: Nugent has been a more accurate kicker (82.1 percent conversion rate) after the injury than before (79.0), keeping pace with the overall recent uptick of NFL kicking.

P: Chris Jones

Injury date: Week 7, 2012. Return date: Week 1, 2013.

Key before/after facts: Jones punted only 22 times before his injury. His gross average is higher after the injury (45.1 yards) than before (44.0), but his net (39.6) and percentage of kicks inside the 20 (38.4) have been lower since his injury (they were 42.3 and 54.5, respectively, before the injury).

Also see: All-ACL team: Offense