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Professional

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NFL

Pro Bowlers hint at competition

– Pro Bowlers practicing one last time Saturday before the schoolyard pickup all-star game dropped hints they’ll use some trickery to get an edge today.

On one play, Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack streaked into the end zone at Aloha Stadium, not fast enough to catch a pass targeted his way.

Indianapolis long-snapper Matt Overton later busted out a behind-the-back snap – a spiraling line drive caught by St. Louis punter Johnny Hekker about 10 yards away, where a slot receiver might line up.

Mack says the potential catch wasn’t meant for him. He describes it as a “last case scenario” for the team picked by NFL great Deion Sanders.

“It’s super top-secret – I can’t talk about it,” Mack said.

Jerry Rice’s team later finished practice by huddling up and shouting “Get money,” a reference to the five-figure pay bonus winners get in the game.

“The worst pressure I’m getting is from the other team: ‘Hey, let’s take it easy on each other,’ ” Miami defensive end Cameron Wake told fans.

“But they got another think coming.”

Ray Anderson, the NFL’s outgoing executive vice president of football operations, said he hopes that up-tempo practices, talk and encouragement from Sanders, Rice and coaches will lead to a better game today.

Anderson said he thinks the game will be improved in part because players suggested the change that models the game partly after fantasy football.

“Certainly there’s some competitive talking going back and forth,” he said.

Poll: 49 percent are pro football fans

According to a Associated Press-GfK poll, about half of Americans say they are fans of pro football. Nearly a third of those fans say they would not consider attending a Super Bowl even though few have any idea how much it costs.

Last year, 56 percent of people polled said they were NFL fans, and that number dropped slightly to 49 percent this year.

Even among those who said they were NFL fans, 31 percent say they have no interest in attending a Super Bowl, even if they could afford it.

Broncos kicker sent up home sick

Kicker Matt Prater missed practice all week with the flu and Denver kept him away from the rest of the team so he didn’t get everyone else sick.

Coach John Fox said said he didn’t think Prater would be infectious by today’s flight.

Prater, who was chosen for the Pro Bowl, missed all three of the team’s practices this week as the Broncos prepare for the Super Bowl against Seattle on Feb. 2.

Around the league

Chicago hired former Louisville and Miami assistant Clint Hurtt to take the place of Michael Sinclair as assistant defensive line coach. …

Miami held second interviews with New England executive Nick Caserio, Tampa Bay Buccaneers director of player personnel Dennis Hickey and Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson for its general manager opening.

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