Posted August 01, 2013

Off the Snap: Devin Hester says Pro Bowl rule changes ‘suck’

Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, NFC East, Off the Snap, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins
Devin Hester has made three Pro Bowls in seven years with the Bears.

Devin Hester has made three Pro Bowls in seven years with the Bears. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web…

• The NFL announced some major changes to the Pro Bowl, beginning with the Jan. 26, 2014 version of the game. One of those alterations: the elimination of kickoffs, a move no doubt designed to further protect players in the annual All-Star Game.

But that adjustment is not sitting too well with the return specialists around the league, including the Bears’ Devin Hester, who told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune that he’s pretty upset with the league’s decision.

“That was one of my goals for this season,” Hester said. “I won’t make the Pro Bowl. They can’t do that. …

“If you are taking the returner out of the Pro Bowl, you’re taking two positions out. That will suck for me. They are trying to change up the whole game of football and they’re messing with people’s jobs and lives.”

Hester has a point there, and it goes beyond simply wanting to earn a spot in the game itself. Many players have Pro Bowl bonus clauses included in their contracts, whereby they’re given a little salary bump if they’re awarded a roster spot. Hester and other special-teams stars around the league, like Oakland’s Joshua Cribbs and Tennessee’s Marc Mariani, now have virtually no shot of being Pro Bowlers in 2014, barring unexpected turns as top receivers for their respective teams.

Those guys may want to get used to this. There have been rumblings for some time now that one of the ways the NFL may make the game safer could be to eliminate kickoffs. The violent nature of those plays — coverage teams charging 60 yards downfield and slamming into the blocking units — are of great concern to the league. A few years back, the NFL enacted a rule change that eliminated “wedge blocking” on kick returns, in hopes that would decrease injuries.

• Already, it appears that the Philadelphia Eagles’ potential three-man quarterback derby has been pared down to a head-to-head showdown. Rookie Matt Barkley is “likely a distant third,” Jordan Raannan of NJ.com reported, with the former USC QB running exclusively with the third team so far in camp.

While that should come as no real surprise given that both Michael Vick and Nick Foles have NFL experience, Barkley was thought to be a sleeper candidate in Philadelphia’s QB race after the Eagles traded up for him in Round 4 of this year’s draft.

A heavy does of tight end action for the rest of this “Off the Snap” …

First up, the Ravens and their ongoing quest to replace Dennis Pitta in the lineup for 2013. Ed Dickson’s the favorite to take on most of Pitta’s snaps as the first-team TE, but rookie Kyle Juszczyk (aka An Editor’s Nightmare) might have an opportunity to pitch in, too.

Juszczyk told Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com, “I definitely see that as a possibility. … I wouldn’t be surprised if I started doing a little bit more of that.”

Listed as a fullback on Baltimore’s roster, Juszczyk actually led Harvard in receptions last season with 52. He even had a 15-catch game against Princeton in which he played more of an H-back role.

Juszczyk is behind the newly re-signed Vonta Leach at fullback and likely behind at least Dickson and Visanthe Shiancoe at tight end. Should Baltimore opt to be a little more creative sans Pitta, however, Juszczyk could get the call.

• The injury outlook is much brighter across the Beltway in Washington, where the Redskins are thrilled to have back the services of tight end Fred Davis. The sixth-year Redskin played just seven games last season.

He caught 24 passes in that short window, giving the Redskins reason to be excited that he’ll gel again with QB Robert Griffin III this year. Such chemistry would benefit Davis, given that he’s in a contract year … again. Davis was hit with the franchise tag before the 2012 season, then signed a one-year deal this summer.

• Finally, not sure this really qualifies as a note about a tight end, but Matt Waldman of The Rookie Scouting Portfolio broke down some ways the Patriots may be able to get Tim Tebow on the field.

Waldman looked at a number of scenarios, including Tebow as a red-zone threat, as a tight end and as a foil to Tom Brady in a “two-quarterback backfield.”

26 comments
PigglyWinks
PigglyWinks

Can we put the players in a bubble or sumo suit when they play in the probowl? The fans would like it, the players would be safe, and we can all move on to a kinder gentler NFL.

leehwgoc
leehwgoc

The returner slot in the Pro Bowl has long been the home of scrubs and randoms that always make you double-take later to see that the guy was in a Pro Bowl, only to nod and shake your head when you learn that, of course, it was only as a returner.

The NFL is right to remove that slot.  And Hester is totally washed up, by the way.  It's not anyone else's fault you never learned how to be a decent receiver, Devin.

Kevin11
Kevin11

He spends more time running backwards than anything

Ronnie 'Fielder's Choice' Banks
Ronnie 'Fielder's Choice' Banks

Why not just make it a flag football game?  You aren't going to get the players to play a serious game anyways so why not?

iclasticons
iclasticons

Stories about the Prozak Bowl ALMOST make wish for more A-Roid coverage. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

KantSpelwrite
KantSpelwrite

the pro bowl is a joke....nobody watches it anymore....they can't even give away enough tickets to fill the stadium...........

NoQNoSuperBowl
NoQNoSuperBowl

Why is Hester worried about the Pro Bowl? It's not like he'll be there.

mahi2mahi
mahi2mahi

Next will be no tackling or blocking.

espnrefugee0218
espnrefugee0218

All star games would be great if all the players would switch sports.... Like NFL players would play baseball, NBA Players would play hockey, NHL guys would play football.  Id watch every one of those events  

DanFromAustin
DanFromAustin

I think they should just vote people to the pro-bowl as they always have.    Get rid of the game.  HOWEVER, still fly them to Hawaii and let them compete in those pre probowl things.  I find that more interesting anyway.   Have the offensive linemen do some weight lifting competition, the QB's do throwing competition.   Just create some fun games and show it on ESPN.   I like these because we get to see their real personalities and watch then just have fun.   

chitownfiasco
chitownfiasco

Uhh Devin,

Hate to remind you, but you long since stopped being the best returner in the league. I mean, I hope you get back to being that guy but come on now.

BosephHeyden
BosephHeyden

Why's he mad?  He can barely do that well anymore...certainly not good enough that he'd make a Pro Bowl for it.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

No kickoffs in the Pro Bowl? How about no trick plays? No direct snaps to a back. No fake pumps by the QB. No really fast running. No tip-toeing along the sideline to make a catch. No bad language. Etc, etc, etc. WHO THE HELL WATCHES THIS GAME? 

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

“That was one of my goals for this season,” Hester said. “I won’t make the Pro Bowl. They can’t do that. …they’re messing with people’s jobs and lives.”

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GET OVER YOURSELF.Who said you would make it anyway. And HOW are they messing with your job? You getting PAID this season? what a typical crying black.  and BTW, when you say "they can't do that"...THEY JUST DID.

dhpaulwooton
dhpaulwooton

The NFL keeps making these stupid rules they are going to lose their status as a fan-favorite (pretty sure it beats baseball). The all-star game is a joke anyways why not make it worth something, such as home-field advantage for the Super Bowl. I realize its only one game and baseball is 7 but then players might actually play and not claim they have injury so a coach picks a player that ends up starting. 

dmorrisssey
dmorrisssey

I dont blame him. All he can do is return kicks.

RickKerner
RickKerner

@KantSpelwrite Actually, do some research and check the ratings for the last two years. You'll be surprised how well it does.

DanFromAustin
DanFromAustin

They could even make it into a fun flag football game.   Maybe a OL goes out and catches a pass.   Just mix stuff up.   But get rid of the actual game. 

darren.m.miller
darren.m.miller

@WHO*IS*ESPN You must have not read the part where it says a lot of these players have bonus clauses. Yea they are getting paid for the regular season but you are missing the point. Myself as a corporate worker established performance goals that I go over with my manager and if I meet those and go beyond I am compensated accordingly.........same logic. Except now the NFL is removing the special teams aspect and making a an even bigger mockery of the Pro Bowl. 

fry305
fry305

@dmorrisssey if he can only do one thing, he may as well be the best ever at it.