The Pro Bowl is getting a much-needed face lift.
The often dull all-star game between players from the AFC and NFC is being overhauled, beginning with the game that will be played at the end of the upcoming season.
The biggest change will be to the rosters. Players will no longer represent their conference but will be selected in a draft-style selection process several days before the game.
The new structure was announced Wednesday by the NFL and NFLPA in a statement that said the changes would make the Pro Bowl “the ultimate fan-friendly celebration of the game.”
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Voting will no longer be done according to conference, with a predetermined number of players at each position being chosen for the game. Once the players are selected, the two leading vote-getters will be named captains and choose their teams with the assistance of Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders and two NFL.com fantasy football champions.
The draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl will be Jan. 22. The game is set for Jan. 26 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
Among other changes:
• Possession will change after each quarter, and a two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarters. Those changes increase the opportunity for two-minute drills.
• Kickoffs have been eliminated for safety reasons. Possessions at the start of a quarter or after a score will start at the 25-yard line.
• An additional defensive back will replace a kick return specialist on the rosters.
• After the two-minute warning during each quarter, if the offense does not gain at least 1 yard on a play, the clock will stop. This is intended to force offenses to try to gain yardage instead of taking a knee.
• The play clock will be shortened to 35 seconds from the current 40, although it will remain at the current 25 seconds after a game stoppage.
• The defense will be allowed to play more than just man-to-man pass defense. Cover 2 and press coverage will be permitted.
Saying he was “ashamed and disgusted” with himself, Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper apologized for making a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert that was caught on video and led to him getting fined by the team. … Robert Griffin III took about “16 or 17” snaps at Redskins camp, coach Mike Shanahan said, marking an increase as the quarterback works back into shape following reconstructive knee surgery. … The Broncos lured veteran offensive lineman Ryan Lilja out of retirement in an effort to replace center Dan Koppen, who is out for the season after tearing a ligament in his left knee. … Veteran linebacker Nick Barnett agreed to a one-year deal with the Redskins. He previously played for the Packers and Bills.