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USA Football Month: Fundamentals team provides good examples

By Bill Bradley, contributing editor

USA Football's biggest focus is youth sports, including the Heads Up Football program and youth national teams. But that doesn't mean the organization ignores the pros.

As USA Football Month draws to a close, officials at USA Football also begin to watch the NFL field and scout for their All-Fundamentals Team.

The sixth edition of the USA Football All-Fundamentals Team will recognize NFL players who use proper technique, particularly when blocking and tackling, and help to promote safer play on the field.

"The 26 players named to our annual All-Fundamentals Team serve as examples to the millions of youth and high school football players across the nation that fundamentals are vital to success at every level," said Carl Peterson, USA Football's chairman and longtime NFL executive who helps select the team. "According to leading medical experts, young players who master the fundamentals and learn them at younger ages are safer as they progress within the sport."

In 2013, 26 NFL players across 22 teams were selected for the team, honoring players for using skills that youth players should emulate. Also, captains are selected for offense, defense and special teams by a fan vote.

Last season, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was selected as offensive captain. The other captains were Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams (defense) and Philadelphia Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos (special teams).

Three of the six previous quarterbacks named to the team -- Drew Brees in 2009, Aaron Rodgers in 2010 and Manning in 2013 -- participated in the Super Bowl at the end of that season.

USA Football donates an equipment grant for each player chosen to the All-Fundamentals Team for the youth or high school football program of his choice.

The selection committee for this year's team has yet to be picked, but last year it included Carl Peterson, Fox Sports analyst Charles Davis, former NFL coach Herman Edwards, former NFL running back Merril Hoge and former NFL general manager Bill Polian.

"Football never stands still, yet strong fundamentals are timeless," Peterson said of last year's process.

This season's team is expected to be announced in late January. The team captains regularly are selected during Super Bowl Week, which this year takes place in the Phoenix area.

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