PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Pro Bowl holds its draft on Wednesday at 8 p.m. (ET) as team captains Michael Irvin and Cris Carter started the process for their respective teams. Four of the six Eagles players here for the game were among the early selections for a game that has the draft format for the second year.
Team Irvin picked return specialist Darren Sproles, while Team Carter selected Eagles left guard Evan Mathis, center Jason Kelce and placekicker Cody Parkey.
Irvin, the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver who now works for the NFL Network, spoke earlier in the day about Sproles, who was so dynamic with the Eagles in his first season.
"What I see in him is what everybody sees – explosion, and a great heart," Irvin said. "Having a guy like that means so much for your football team. Darren is the smallest guy on the field with the biggest heart, and when you put the smallest guy on the field with the biggest heart, it forces everybody to check themselves and they'll give more on the football field. Darren Sproles is a great football player."
VINCENT ON THE STATE OF THE LEAGUE
The appetite for the NFL has never been greater, but the 2014 season hasn't exactly been an easy one for the league. Troy Vincent, the NFL's Executive Vice President of Football Operations and an Eagles Hall of Famer, spoke about the big picture of the league as it prepares for Sunday's Pro Bowl and Super Bowl 49 the week after.
"From a football standpoint, it was a changing-of-the-guard (season), when you look at an Antonio Brown when you see the Larry Fitzgeralds (Cardinals wide receiver) and some of our, shall we say, senior veteran all stars. When you see Antonio Browns, the J.J. Watts, the Russell Wilsons when you have the Tom Bradys and the Drew Brees's as they begin transitioning --- not saying they've transitioned – but we're starting to see the future superstars emerge with record seasons. On the field it was great. We saw different teams and that competitive balance, which we've always wanted, we've seen it with full effect.
"Off the field, we learned some things. We've made some mistakes. I think, today, we're a better NFL. We see what society wants from us, what expect from us to lead in certain areas. We've acknowledged those mistakes and we're better off today than we were to begin 2014.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The players arrived in Arizona on Tuesday and then will have Wednesday to acclimate themselves before the Pro Bowl draft on Wednesday night. The teams practice on Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Sunday's 2015 Pro Bowl game.
What are the practices like? You can imagine that they are pretty light, as the players do not wear pads and there is no tackling. The game plans aren't particularly complex, which makes it much easier for the players to perform at a high level on Sunday.
"These players are taught concepts and they know concepts so what it's much easier when we get into X's and O's," Irvin said on Tuesday. "They know the game of football. We are talking about the best of the best, so they know concepts. They are able to transition quickly for the game."
The teams practice at Luke Air Force Base on Thursday and then at Scottsdale Community College on Friday and Saturday.