Pro Bowl Skills Announced for Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cam Heyward
Head coaches Peyton and Eli Manning unveiled who will be taking part in specific skills competitions for their respective AFC and NFC squads on Wednesday’s Pro Bowl Games Selection Show. Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will compete in the flag football finale on Sunday with the AFC and NFC rosters’ skill position players along with centers, who snap and kneel as is customary in seven-on-seven competition. The flag football finale will feature three games. Fitzpatrick will also be in the dodgeball event on Thursday.
Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward will participate in the gridiron gauntlet on Sunday. The gridiron gauntlet is a side-by-side relay race that will highlight players’ speed and agility as they climb walls, go under tables, navigate a tire run and push a blocking sled with a coach upon it. Heyward’s teammates in the gauntlet are Dion Dawkins of the Bills and three Browns players — Joel Bitonio, Myles Garrett and Nick Chubb. The AFC team will compete against Penei Sewell (Lions), Brian Burns (Panthers) Saquon Barkley (Giants), Tristan Wirfs (Buccaneers) and Cam Jordan (Saints) of the NFC.
Heyward will also be in the lighting round event on Thursday. The lightning round will feature players competing in a three-part elimination challenge. The first event is splash catch, with duos from each conference doing a water balloon toss. Thereafter will be the high-stakes portion in which players will attempt to catch punts from a JUGS machine. In the last part of the challenge — thrill of the spill — the remaining players from each conference will take aim at targets attached to a bucket hanging over the head of an opposing coach. The first team to dump a bucket on a coach wins.
Fitzpatrick and Heyward are the only Steelers players participating in the Pro Bowl Skill Games. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt made the Pro Bowl, but declined the invite to Las Vegas due to injury. Watt did not suffer a new injury, but is taking time to rest and recover after having his 2022 season disrupted by knee, pec and rib injuries, a team source confirmed to Steelers Now. Watt missed seven games with the left pectoral injury that he suffered in Week 1 in Cincinnati. He also had minor knee surgery while he was out. A rib injury limited him after his return to action.
The Pro Bowl Games action will kick off Thursday on ESPN at 7 p.m. with five skills challenges, and the games will conclude at 3 p.m. Sunday with more skills events and a trio of flag football games in the first rendition of a new look to the NFL’s annual all-star showdown at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on ABC/ESPN.
Each and every challenge and game will earn points for the winning conference to set up a score going into the third and final Pro Bowl flag game on Sunday to determine the conference champion. The cumulative scoring breakdown will see the winning conference of each skill competition tally three points, with 24 total points available across the eight skills competitions.