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Vikings in Vegas: 4 Takeaways from the 2023 NFL Pro Bowl Festivities 

LAS VEGAS – What happens in Vegas usually stays in Vegas.

In this case, however, we're giving you an inside look at some of the happenings of the 2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games.

This year marks the third since the NFL relocated the all-star event from Orlando to Las Vegas – but only the second year of in-person festivities after the 2021 Pro Bowl transitioned to virtual-only due to COVID-19.

Here are five takeaways from Pro Bowl Week:

1. New-look format

In previous seasons, the Pro Bowl featured a "true" all-star game among players wearing full pads and their respective teams' helmets.

The NFL has pivoted the format starting this year, with Sunday's flag football game taking the place of a tackle game.

The action began Thursday, with the top-voted players competing in the first portion of the Skills Competition. Players earned teams for their conference while facing off in water balloon tosses, dodgeball, precision passing and everything in between.

View photos of Vikings players competing in the 2023 Pro Bowl Game in Las Vegas.

Friday featured opportunities for players to make an impact in the community. Some of the athletes helped with a renovation project at a local Boys & Girls Club, while others visited the youth flag football tournament.

The NFC and AFC teams held individual practices at Allegiant Stadium Saturday in preparation for the 7-on-7 flag football game that will cap the weekend's events.

Three different flag football games will be played, each lasting 20 minutes and counting toward the total score between the NFC and AFC.

2. Strong SKOL presence

The Vikings have seven players participating in this year's Pro Bowl Games.

QB Kirk Cousins, LS Andrew DePaola, TE T.J. Hockenson, WR Justin Jefferson and OLB Za'Darius Smith were named to the initial NFC roster; RB Dalvin Cook and OLB Danielle Hunter were later invited as alternates.

"It's a blast, first of all, to see my teammates here. We have so many, which is always special to have a lot of Vikings representing," Cousins said. "It's great to get to know other guys around the league, other quarterbacks – pick their brains about how their seasons went and what they were going through behind the scenes.

"Just that time spent with other guys around the league, I think, is really fun," he added.

The Vikings are the best-represented NFC team on-site for this year's Pro Bowl. Dallas did have seven players, but RB Tony Pollard withdrew due to injury, opening the spot for Cook.

3. From player to coach

Part of the week's events included the NFL Flag Championships at Pro Bowl, presented by Subway.

Minnesota was represented by a team from St. Paul Parks and Rec – Dayton's Bluff, which played four games in the 12U Co-Ed Rec tournament division.

"The Vikings" flag team is coached by Mario Stokes and Spencer Knott, and the young men and women were dressed to impressed in purple-and-gold jerseys and Pro Bowl-themed compression sleeves.

Hunter and DePaola each visited the team to provide a pep talk, sign autographs and answer questions from the youngsters.


4. International interests

Cousins hasn't left the country – despite driving past the Eiffel Tower replica en route to the stadium – but nonetheless has appreciated some unique international opportunities.

The quarterback did an interview Thursday with an Australian news outlet, and on Friday he obliged some Australian youth who wanted to meet him during the flag football tournament.

Cousins also spent time with Team Bomb Squad, a team participating from Regina, Saskatchewan. Bomb Squad was among three Canadian Teams participating in the 12U International bracket, joining the Chilliwack Giants (Vancouver) and Flight School (Toronto).

NFL International provided an opportunity for IHMA (International Home Marketing Area) clubs to engage with their IHMA-representative FLAG team at the 2023 NFL FLAG Championships at the Pro Bowl Games in Las Vegas. Each FLAG team is comprised of up to 10 players and two coaches, with eight international markets represented: Canada, Australia, China, Germany, Ghana, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom.