ASHBURN, Va. -- The mouth doesn't stop. And neither does Marcus Washington.
The Washington Redskins linebacker is renowned for his non-stop chatter in the locker room and on the field - a talent that he has used for comic relief with his teammates or blistering criticism with their opponents.
"He never shuts up," defensive end Phillip Daniels marveled. "He's always talking trash to the other team and making them mad. You try to calm him down, but I don't know. You may need to get some help to calm him down."
Washington's penchant for conversation, however, is no match for his enthusiasm on the field, where he has forged two Pro Bowl-type seasons and overtaken LaVar Arrington as the face of the Redskins' defense.
Washington, a sixth-year linebacker from Auburn, is second on the team in tackles with 135 and sacks with 7 1/2 and first in forced fumbles with five and recovered fumbles with three. Washington, who is just a half-sack away from tying a career high, has already surpassed previous career highs in tackles and forced fumbles.
Last season, he logged 130 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks and was selected for his first career Pro Bowl.
But despite his gaudy numbers this year and being named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Month for December/January for posting 35 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, two recovered fumbles and an interception, Washington was left off the NFC Pro Bowl roster.
The omission enraged his teammates.
"To me, he's the best linebacker in the league, and I'm sure people will argue that," safety Ryan Clark said. "I think it was a slap in the face to him and to me and to our teammates that he didn't make it to the Pro Bowl."
Said Daniels: "Marcus has had a better year this year than he did last year. That he didn't make the Pro Bowl this year makes you upset."
When the Pro Bowl rosters were announced Dec. 21, Washington didn't whine about the snub. In fact, he told the local media that teammates such as safety Sean Taylor and defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin were worthier candidates.
"With so many good players in the league and so few slots, sometimes things happen. You just can't really dwell on it," Washington said. "That's definitely a personal goal, but it's not more important than for our team to do well."
Some of Washington's success stems from his fit in Gregg Williams' system. The Redskins' assistant head coach in charge of defense has built his schemes on aggression and speed, and Washington, who was used more in pass coverage in his first four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, has thrived under the different approach.
"Here, the linebacker's asked to get after the quarterback and blitz a lot," said Washington, who at 6 feet 3, 250 pounds is praised by his coaches for his strength and speed. "That's just part of being aggressive. That's the type of leadership we have from the coaches, and it just trickles down to the players."
For the second straight year, Washington has played the second-most downs by a defensive player, trailing middle linebacker Lemar Marshall this season and middle linebacker Antonio Pierce last year.
That statistic illustrates just how valuable Washington is to the Redskins' defense, according to linebackers coach Dale Lindsey.
"I think he was underused in Indianapolis," Lindsey said. "He didn't play on first and second downs there. Here, he never comes off the field. And we use him rushing, covering and doing a whole lot of things. I think we've been very blessed to be able to maximize his talents."
Washington 17, Tampa Bay 10 New England 28, Jacksonville 3 Carolina 23, N.Y. Giants 0 Pittsburgh 31, Cincinnati 17
(Line in parentheses) NFC -- Washington@Seattle (-9), 4:30 p.m., chs. 45, 5 AFC -- New England@Denver (-3), 8 p.m., chs. 13, 9
AFC -- Pittsburgh @Indianapolis (-9 1/2 ), 1 p.m., chs. 13, 9 NFC -- Carolina@Chicago (-3), 4:30 p.m., chs. 45, 5
AFC -- 3 p.m., chs. 13, 9 NFC -- 6:30 p.m., chs. 45, 5
Ford Field, Detroit, 6:30 p.m., chs. 2, 7