The Pro Bowl is Sunday at 3 p.m. at Camping World Stadium.
Former Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick couldn’t help but marvel at what he’s witnessed this week during preparation for the NFL Pro Bowl.
“The [NFL] game is still so cool,” Vick said Thursday at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
“I sat and listened to some of the plays that [quarterback] Russell [Wilson] was calling — and it’s his offense with the Seattle Seahawks — but I could still understand what he was saying,” Vick said. “It brought back a lot of memories for me.”
Vick, a four-time Pro Bowler, is serving as a legends captain this week alongside Pro Football Hall of Famers Terrell Davis, Darrell Green and Bruce Smith.
The Pro Bowl takes place Sunday at 3 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The game will be broadcast on ESPN and ABC.
This year’s all-star exhibition outing includes the likes of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, making his 13th Pro Bowl trip, along with a cast of notable first-time attendees that include Florida natives Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Derrick Henry of the Tennessee Titans.
“To have it in my home state, it don’t get no better,” said Henry, who rushed for a league-best 1,540 yards and 16 TDs.
The Yulee High product, in his fourth season, credited Tennessee teammates for affording him the opportunity to be on such a stage, sayings it’s been a “humbling and fun experience.”
“Spending time with all these guys in a laid-back environment and talking about football and talking about life has been cool,” he said.
Jackson, who played at Boynton Beach High, broke Vick’s record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season while finishing with 1,206 yards on the year. He also threw for 3,127 yards and 36 touchdowns.
The second-year standout has enjoyed meeting some of the league’s veteran players for the first time this week.
“This means a lot,” Jackson said of the Pro Bowl selection. “I’d rather be in the Super Bowl, but this all-star game has the greatest players across the NFL, and I’m happy to be in it. I just want to win on Sunday.”
Each player on the winning Pro Bowl team receives $70,000. Players on the losing team will earn $35,000.
Glancing at the group of NFC players that dispersed from a huddle following Thursday’s practice, Vick took a moment to appreciate the emergence of a new generation at the pro level.
“The league has continued to groom its young players and continues to mold them in the right way, and help them see what the long-term vision can be,” Vick said. “And coaches have done a great job of helping players understand what it takes to become professionals and be good at what they do at their respective position. Whether you’re young or old, you’ve still got a lot to offer.”
As talented as Jacksonville Jaguars rookie defensive end Josh Allen is, he does not know everything.
That’s OK. Calais Campbell is there to help.
Campbell, the former University of Miami standout, entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2008. He has played the past three seasons in Jacksonville, all of which have ended with Campbell in the Pro Bowl.
Allen was added to the AFC roster this week.
“I’m on him all the time,’’ Campbell said. “It’s like a regular workweek. I remind him all the time – where to stay, who to talk to, when to be quiet, all that good stuff. But honestly, I told him to embrace it.’’
A five-time Pro Bowler, Campbell is wrapping up his 12th season. He has played in every game over the past five seasons and finished 2019 with 6.5 sacks. Only Allen (10.5) and Yannick Ngakoue (8) had more sacks for the Jags.
Allen led the University of Kentucky to a Citrus Bowl win over Penn State the last time he played at Camping World Stadium. That was while recording three sacks and blocking a field goal on New Year’s Day 2019.
“This is the first of many,’’ Campbell said of Allen. “He’s a guy who’s going to be a perennial Pro Bowler.’’
In his seventh season, Ryan Tannehill is finally a Pro Bowler. That’s despite not even beginning the year as a starter with the Titans.
Tannehill got the call to replace Marcus Mariota in Week 6 during a shutout loss to the Denver Broncos. He went on to finish 7-3 over the final 10 games of the regular season before helping the Titans reach the AFC Championship Game following playoff wins against the New England Patriots and Ravens.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and looked forward to my whole career,” Tannehill said. “To be able to be out here and share this experience and build relationships with guys you respect and love watching and competing against on Sundays is such an honor.”
Tannehill spent six seasons with the Miami Dolphins from 2012-18 before joining the Titans. He closed the 2019 regular season by throwing for 2,742 yards and 22 touchdowns with a career-low six interceptions.
The Pro Bowl will serve as a testing ground for a potential rule change geared toward moving away from kickoffs.
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Another option, in place of an onside kick, would give the team that just scored the chance to run a fourth-and-15 play from its own 25. A first down would result in the team maintaining possession. Failing to move the ball 15 yards would turn possession over to the opposing team where the play ended.
A similar rule was used during the Alliance of American Football season in the spring of 2019.
“We’ve spent hours and hours on that, and we’re really working hard with looking at the statistics and all the analytics and we’ll let you know at game time, but we’re all over it,” Seahawks and NFC coach Pete Carroll said in jest.
Stephen Ruiz contributed to this report. J.C. Carnahan can be reached at [email protected]