Start the chainsaws and light the fireworks, because an Oregon State player is heading to the Pro Bowl.
Johnny Hekker was one of only two Los Angeles Rams to make the cut for the 2017 Pro Bowl. The Rams may be barreling through a dismal season, but one lone bright spot is the play of Hekker.
The former Beavers punter currently leads the NFL in average net yardage of 46.2 yards and is tied for the lead with a long of 78 yards. He has also placed 46 punts inside the 20-yard line, 12 more than the closest punter. Hekker is so good that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick even labeled him as a bonafide weapon.
Technically, the Pro Bowl is arranged in such a way that punts normally don’t happen that often. One of the teams will occasionally run a trick play, so Hekker could possibly be involved as a passer. If not, he will basically get an excuse to vacation in Florida before hanging out on the sideline with his friends. More importantly, Hekker will get to take part in some entertaining tests of skill.
If you haven’t heard yet, the NFL is revamping the practice week heading into the game. Thursday’s practice will bring back the long-dormant skill challenges where Pro Bowl participants put their talents to the test. There is a Power Relay Challenge, a Best Hands competition, and my personal favorite--the Precision Passing Test. The most entertaining example of these was the competition from 2006 that featured a wildly inaccurate Jake Delhomme, Peyton Manning, Matt Hasselbeck, and Michael Vick.
While Hekker may not be part of the Precision Passing test, he will take part in a game simply called “Epic Pro Bowl Dodgeball”. Oh my goodness. How scary would it be to play Dodgeball against someone capable of launching a pass down the field? Aaron Rodgers can throw a 65-yard Hail Mary across his body while running full speed. Just imagine what he could do with a red rubber ball. Even Hekker could deliver a resounding blow with his rocket arm. Scary stuff.
The Pro Bowl will take place January 29th at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. BeaverBlitz will be watching to report on Hekker’s progress.