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Bengals DT Geno Atkins Will Be A Busy All-Star In Hawaii

Here's to the golden moon, to the silver sea, and mostly a toast to Geno, to the ginger lei we give to you today.

Captain Geno Atkins will be reporting for double duty Jan. 31 at the 2016 Pro Bowl. The annual NFL all-star game kicks off at 7 p.m. ET, and will be televised live on ESPN at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Atkins will suit up for the modified all-star game after leading all AFC interior lineman in sacks. On Friday, he was named one of four active player captains, giving him an increased role.

Also chosen were New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman.

Atkins and Freeman will pair up as co-active player captains for one team, while Beckham Jr. and Donald will co-captain the other.

Team captains, what the league calls NFL Legends captains, are former wide receiver greats and Pro Football Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin. The four active player captains will help determine rosters for Team Rice and Team Irvin, which draft teams from the pool of players voted to the Pro Bowl by players, coaches and fans who participated in nationwide balloting.

With the Bengals ousted from the playoffs, Atkins, the newly-minted first-team All-Pro defensive tackle, can't do much for an encore. The Bengals posted a franchise-tying 12 wins. Atkins was the NFL co-leader among interior lineman with 11 sacks. All that's left is making a good impression at the Pro Bowl, where the competitiveness level depends on your perspective.

Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, tight end Tyler Eifert, wide receiver  A.J. Green, safety Reggie Nelson and defensive end Carlos Dunlap will also be in Hawaii representing the Bengals. All but Dunlap were selected in initial voting. Dunlap made the team as an alternate. That's some big men in the land of Tiny Bubbles, the 1966 novelty song popularized by Hawaiian-born singer Don Ho that can be heard in parts of the main island.

Retired five-time Pro Bowler Darren Woodson (Team Irvin) and former two-time Pro Bowler Eric Davis (Team Rice) will act as defensive co-captains. The retired greats each will be assisted by one NFL.com fantasy football champion in the Pro Bowl Draft process.

The Pro Bowl will continue using the revised game format that debuted in 2014. NFL Legends captains have final say over Pro Bowl Draft decisions with authority over "unconferenced" rosters using several playing rules changes. Players will be selected to their respective teams without regard to conference. To determine which team owns the first pick in the Pro Bowl Draft, and how the NFL Legends captains will be paired with active player captains, a coin toss will follow the Pro Bowl kickoff press conference Jan. 26.

Head coaches Mike McCarthy of Green Bay and Kansas City's Andy Reid, along with their assistants, have been selected to guide the 2016 Pro Bowl squads.

ESPN2 will televise the 2016 Pro Bowl Draft Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Mike Tirico will host the two-hour show with input from Jon Gruden, Rice and Irvin.

ESPN said the show "will resemble a NFL Draft team meeting with Tirico, Gruden, Irvin and Rice gathered around a table, discussing which players to select for the unconferenced teams that will compete in the Pro Bowl. Fans at home will be able to watch and listen to the decision-making process in this ultimate Fantasy Football player draft. The ESPN telecast will focus on skill-position players, using highlights from the 2015 NFL season. Gruden will also prepare some of his own film room segments as he does on MNF and in his annual Gruden’s QB Camp series."

Separate from the draft room, the Pro Bowl players will watch the draft unfold in an adjacent airplane hangar where they will be joined by American servicemen and women representing all five military branches, and family members. Interviews will be conducted with both players and military members who are part of the live audience.


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