NFL Beavs: Pro Bowl

Super Bowl LI may not kick off until the first week of February, but at least there was some football this past weekend with the Pro Bowl.

Sure, the annual NFC/AFC all star game wasn’t the most exciting event at times as many key players didn’t bother to put in any effort. That’s ok, though, because two former Oregon State players were still able to participate and earn some bonus money.

D.J. Alexander and Johnny Hekker both participated in the Pro Bowl after missing out on the entertaining Skills Showdowns. Despite being special teamers, both former Beavers actually spent more time on the field than expected.

Johnny Hekker - Punter Los Angeles Rams - This may have been an all star game, but Hekker still had to participate with some punts as the NFC offense struggled early. Hekker’s first punt traveled 59 yards to the AFC 11-yard line where Tyreek Hill began his 10-yard return. The second punt traveled 46 yards, but Hill took this one back 36 yards. Surprisingly, Hekker punted a third time with a net of 44 yards as he forced a fair catch.

Watching Hekker punt during the Pro Bowl was honestly a little bizarre considering that this game has generally finished with each team scoring at least 35 points. However, the NFC offense sputtered frequently against a tough AFC defense, so the Pro Bowl punter was forced into action.

DJ Alexander - LB Kansas City Chiefs - DJ Alexander wasn’t originally slated for a Pro Bowl spot, but Matthew Slater of the Patriots withdrew to play in the Super Bowl (poor him). So, the Chiefs linebacker packed his bags and headed to Orlando with barely any notice. Despite the lack of preparation time, Alexander still had a distinct advantage heading to Orlando this week given that the AFC was coached by Andy Reid and the Chiefs staff.

Reid’s trust in Alexander was evident as he inserted the special teams ace into the starting lineup during the first quarter and played him most of the game. Alexander was very busy early dropping into coverage on almost every play. He was also quite active against the run, racking up  tackles on his first defensive series. The second series was even more impressive as Alexander absolutely leveled the 5-foot-9-inch, 250-lb. Mike Tolbert on a screen pass for no gain. Normally Tolbert just runs over defenders with his...imposing figure, but Alexander was simply more powerful.

The former Oregon State linebacker and Pro Bowl special teamer was second on the victorious AFC with seven total tackles. Not too shabby for a player that joined the team at the last minute.

Sadly, there is only one game left in the 2016 NFL season. At least we can still cheer for Terron Ward and Andy Levitre as they try to help the Falcons win the first Super Bowl in franchise history.  

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