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Practicing players: Pro Bowl will be more serious

Practicing players: Pro Bowl will be more serious

HONOLULU (AP) The NFC team ended its first Pro Bowl practice by breaking the huddle and shouting, ``Win.'' One night earlier, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning asked his fellow all-stars to play the game hard.

And players on both sides pledged Wednesday to play more determined in a game with a reputation of being taken less seriously than preseason exhibitions or meaningless Week 17 contests.

``We're professional football players. I think you take a professional attitude to the game,'' said Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, one of two rookie passers in the game along with Seattle's Russell Wilson. ``It is an obligation of ours to continue this game.''

The future of the game to be held Sunday in Hawaii is uncertain. The contest was almost not scheduled at all this year after players faced blowback from commissioner Roger Goodell and fans for clearly not trying last year.

That's made the 2013 Pro Bowl something of an audition. A league executive said Tuesday the NFL wants to decide on the future of the Pro Bowl by April, when the next regular season schedule comes out.

Manning responded later that night by urging players to play at full speed, according to a report by NFL.com. NFL officials said Wednesday a transcript of Manning's speech wasn't available, and Manning was not made available for comment after his team's practice.

The AFC and NFC squads showed slightly different styles during a low key practice at a high school on Oahu's west side, with players barely breaking a sweat while wearing T-shirts and shorts.

Manning and Luck took the field at the same time for passing drills to AFC receivers like Houston's Andre Johnson, Indianapolis' Reggie Wayne and Cincinnati's A.J. Green.

The NFC practice included 7-on-7 scrimmage plays, special teams practice with punts and field goals and plenty of passes for Drew Brees, Eli Mannning and Wilson.

While some players, including Brees, spent time signing autographs for fans waiting just outside a campus gate, others didn't linger around after practice as a bus promptly returned them to the team hotel.

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz joked that he might take a surfing lesson before saying he thinks the game will be well-played.

When asked what the Green Bay coaches on the NFC side might think of him hitting the waves, Cruz said: ``That'll be our secret.''

Brees said the Pro Bowl is important in part because it's a big moment for Hawaii, a state without an NFL team.

``There's so many guys who come out here and take this with a sense of responsibility,'' Brees said.

Denver cornerback Champ Bailey says players should take the honor of a Pro Bowl seriously because they never know when they will get the opportunity to return.

``This is a tradition that needs to keep going,'' Bailey said. ``That's the only way we're going to keep it going, is if we come over here and take it seriously.''

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Associated Press writer Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/oskargarcia .

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

With big decision looming, Ravens guard Marshal Yanda mum on retirement plans

Ravens guard Marshal Yanda has a decision to make on his playing future, but he's in no rush to make it.

The 35-year-old is under contract with the Ravens through the 2020 season, but will take the next month or so to decide if he wants to continue playing or hang up the cleats.

"I'm going to take my time now," Yanda told Ravens.com regarding his future. "Done playing for the year, just take some time over the next month and basically just go with my heart and see how I feel."

The eight-time Pro Bowler was a vital piece in the NFL's best rushing attack in 2019. Yanda, the leader of the offensive line, started and played in 15 games this season for Baltimore, missing the regular-season finale as the Ravens rested multiple starters with the No. 1 seed already clinched.

Following Baltimore's upset divisional playoff loss to the Titans, a visibly disappointed Yanda refused to address his future, but he was definitely thinking about it then.

But if Sunday's Pro Bowl was the last time Yanda put on the pads, he didn't treat the game or experience any differently.

"Not necessarily," Yanda said if he cherished Sunday's Pro Bowl differently. "You're not in that frame of mind. I definitely didn't think about [my retirement decision] too much today, just because it was the Pro Bowl. It's more of a relaxed game, not like a really intense game.

"I didn't have those feelings as much as the Tennessee game," he continued." Yeah, it's a possibility. But those feelings were more in the Tennessee game."

Even at age 35, Yanda remains one of the best guards in the game. He's made the NFL's second-team All-Pro squad the past two seasons and has been a Pro Bowler every season since 2011, minus the 2017 season where he played just two games due to a season-ending ankle injury.

There's no debate: Baltimore would greatly benefit from Yanda returning.

"You want people that want you back," Yanda said. "You want to be playing very well when you end. Nobody wants to fade out; you want to go out strong."

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Jalen Smith taunts Indiana crowd after a crazy come-from-behind Maryland win

Jalen Smith taunts Indiana crowd after a crazy come-from-behind Maryland win

Sunday's game against Indiana was the best of Jalen Smith's collegiate career. 

The 6-10 forward had just set another career-high. Pouring on 29 points and sinking the game-winning layup to vault the Maryland Terrapins over Indiana, he was on top of the world. What he did next is what many will remember the most from Smith's performance that afternoon. 

'Stix,' as many in the Terrapins community call him, was clearly overcome with emotion. Once the postgame interviews were completed, he walked toward a large contingent of Hoosier fans and began chirping back at a raucous crowd.

He is seen mouthing the words "this is my court," before bending down and tapping Indiana's logo.

Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon saw Smith's taunting and quickly stepped in to diffuse the situation. Immediately he shut down Smith and expressed his displeasure to the sophomore. 

Smith was then escorted off the court by two Maryland assistants. 

Normally Smith is the calm, cool and easy-going player on a roster full of characters. Postgame he is extremely forthcoming with the media and stays to answer every question asked of him. When he's around there is an infectious smile that he proudly boasts. 

This, however, was something not seen by Smith before. Less than an hour following his antics, Smith apologized on Twitter. 

"I want to sincerely apologize to all the Indiana’s fans and players for how I acted at the end of the game. I let my emotions get the best of me and it won’t happen again. I have nothing but respect for all Indiana’s fans and players. Please forgive me and I wish you all the best," Smith said.

It appeared to be a situation where Smith lost control of his emotions after the Terps clawed back by scoring the final seven points of the game. Turgeon admitted that this was not how Smith normally acts and apologized on behalf of him. 

"It's not who he is," Turgeon explained postgame. "I apologize to Archie [Miller], the team, Indiana nation - or whatever you guys call yourself - Hoosier nation. We're sorry for the way we acted."

On Monday morning he further explained Smith's character and how abnormal his actions were during a weekly appearance on The Sports Junkies.

"Jalen Smith is one of the greatest kids I've ever coached. He's the most humble superstar you'll ever be around and he lost his mind for a minute," Turgeon told The Junkies. "That will never happen again, I can promise you that... I hope people don't judge him on that one minute. I hope they judge him on what kind of competitor he was yesterday and what a great kid he is."

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