Pro Bowler doesn’t want this to be last hurrah
By OSKAR GARCIA
HONOLULU — Adrian Peterson signed and tossed miniature footballs into the Aloha Stadium stands, then chatted up Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and Marcus Allen. Arian Foster played Peyton Manning’s bodyguard for stadium cameras and told fans he recently walked on hot lava.
The Pro Bowl players practiced a little, too, on a sunny Saturday in Honolulu one day before an all-star game that will likely be used to determine its own future.
But the game’s main purpose is fun, said several players including Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph and Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles.
“I feel like there’s no responsibility, it’s just all about fun,” Charles said. “You work hard during the year — it’s not like a competitive game.”
Competition — or at least the appearance of it — is exactly what the NFL is looking for from its stars on Sunday as it uses the game as a measurement of whether it’s worth putting on in future years. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said the game will stop if play doesn’t improve, drawing mixed reactions from top players all over the league.
Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman says he doesn’t want this year’s Pro Bowl players to be known as the group who led to the game’s cancellation, taking away an honor and privilege for future players.
“I don’t want this to happen on my watch,” he said.
Rudolph said the players’ natural competitiveness will help make the game entertaining.
“It’s a game we want to win, so it’ll be fun,” Rudolph said.
The game should see plenty of scoring, thanks to limits on blitzing and defensive schemes. Bookmakers in Las Vegas expect a combined 81 1/2 points scored, with the AFC squad slightly favored. The NFC and AFC have won five Pro Bowls each in the last 10 meetings.
Houston tight end Owen Daniels says fans won’t see many big hits.
“You’re not going to see people play dirty or giving it up like a playoff game, but that’s just the way it is,” Daniels said. “I think you’ve got to accept that and . know that we love being out here and I think you’ve got to know that the people here love having us out here.”
Daniels said he’s been motivated to return to the Pro Bowl after making his first all-star team in 2009. He said he sees the Pro Bowl as a good consolation for players who would rather be in the Super Bowl.
Peterson said moments like his chat with two NFL greats are what make the trip worthwhile for him.
“It’s the best part,” he said. “It’s a bonus, man.”
Charles said he’s enjoyed watching the leadership of other Pro Bowl players as he’s been taking on a bigger leadership role with the Chiefs.
“I’m just trying to keep grinding and working hard,” he said. “Trying to be where I’m at right now — trying to get back here next year.”
Today at Aloha
x-injured; r-replacement; s-starter; y-participating in Super Bowl
Quarterbacks — x-Tom Brady, New England; r-Andrew Luck, Indianapolis; s-Peyton Manning, Denver; Matt Schaub, Houston
Running Backs — Jamaal Charles, Kansas City; s-Arian Foster, Houston; y-Ray Rice, Baltimore; r-C.J. Spiller, Buffalo
Fullback — y-Vonta Leach, Baltimore; r-Marcel Reece, Oakland
Wide Receivers — s-A.J. Green, Cincinnati; s-Andre Johnson, Houston; r-Demaryius Thomas, Denver; Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis; x-Wes Welker, New England
Tight Ends — x-Rob Gronkowski, New England; x-Heath Miller, Pittsburgh; r-Owen Daniels, Houston; r-Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati
Tackles — s-Duane Brown, Houston; x-Ryan Clady, Denver; s-Joe Thomas, Cleveland; r-Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati;
Guards — r-Zane Beadles, Denver; r-Richie Incognito, Miami; x-Logan Mankins, New England; Wade Smith, Houston; y-Marshall Yanda, Baltimore
Centers — Chris Myers, Houston; s-Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh
Ends — Elvis Dumervil, Denver; s-Cameron Wake, Miami; s-J.J. Watt, Houston
Interior Linemen — s-Geno Atkins, Cincinnati; y-Haloti Ngata, Baltimore; r-Randy Starks, Miami; x-Vince Wilfork, New England; r-Kyle Williams, Buffalo
Outside Linebackers — s-Tamba Hali, Kansas City; Robert Mathis, Indianapolis; x-Von Miller, Denver; r-Justin Houston, Kansas City
Inside/Middle Linebackers — Derrick Johnson, Kansas City; s-Jerod Mayo, New England
Cornerbacks — s-Champ Bailey, Denver; Antonio Cromartie, N.Y. Jets; s-Johnathan Joseph, Houston
Strong Safeties — s-Eric Berry, Kansas City; LaRon Landry, N.Y. Jets
Free Safety — y-Ed Reed, Baltimore; r-Jairus Byrd, Buffalo
Placekicker — Phil Dawson, Cleveland
Punter — Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City
Kick Returner — y-Jacoby Jones, Baltimore; r-Joshua Cribbs, Cleveland
Special Team — Matthew Slater, New England
Long Snapper — John Denney, Miami
Quarterbacks — x-Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay; x-Matt Ryan, Atlanta; x-Robert Griffin III, Washington; r-Drew Brees, New Orleans; r-Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants; r-Russell Wilson, Seattle
Running Backs — s-Adrian Peterson, Minnesota; y-Frank Gore, San Francisco; Marshawn Lynch, Seattle; r-Doug Martin, Tampa Bay
Fullback — s-Jerome Felton, Minnesota
Wide Receivers — x-Calvin Johnson, Detroit; x-Brandon Marshall, Chicago; s-Victor Cruz, N.Y. Giants; s-Julio Jones, Atlanta; r-Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay; r-Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Tight Ends — x-Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta; r-Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota; Jason Witten, Dallas
Tackles — y-Joe Staley, San Francisco; x-Trent Williams, Washington; s-Russell Okung, Seattle; r-Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans; r-Matt Kalil, Minnesota
Guards — s-Jahri Evans, New Orleans; y-Mike Iupati, San Francisco; r-Josh Sitton, Green Bay; Chris Snee, N.Y. Giants
Centers — Jeff Saturday, Green Bay; s-Max Unger, Seattle
Ends — Jared Allen, Minnesota; s-Julius Peppers, Chicago; s-Jason Pierre-Paul, N.Y. Giants