For the second straight year, the Packers coaching staff is coaching the NFC squad in the Pro Bowl. Packers.com caught up with running backs coach Alex Van Pelt and he sends this update from Hawaii.
This has already been a special trip. This is my third time in Hawaii – I played a game here once in college for Pitt and was a guest of Buffalo Bills teammate (and Pitt teammate) Ruben Brown about a dozen years ago. This time, I brought out my whole family. My wife Brooke, daughters Payton (13) and Paige (10) and son Jack (7) are all here.
We came out on Saturday, on a nine-hour flight from Chicago, so we'd have a few days on our own before the football activities started. We went up to the north shore and watched some surfers, who were riding some 20- and 30-foot breakers, and we also hiked up through some beautiful country to a 40-foot waterfall that we could swim out underneath.
Other than that, we've been mostly hanging out at the hotel and the beach. We've gone paddleboarding, snorkeling, and kayaking, and later on we plan to hike up to a volcano.
Our team had its first meeting last night and first practice today. It was just a 45-minute workout, and my son was a waterboy for the players. It was fun to see him interacting with players like Adrian Peterson and Eli Manning. I doubt he'll forget this anytime soon.
In addition to Peterson, our NFC running backs group includes Seattle's Marshawn Lynch, Tampa Bay's Doug Martin and Minnesota fullback Jerome Felton. I had a chance to work with Lynch in Buffalo when I was quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator there, so it's been good to get back together with him.
It's fun to watch these guys in practice. They're Pro Bowlers for a reason. I watched Peterson in practice today, and you could see the hunger. He plays at a different speed, even at a jog-through tempo. It's impressive to watch.
All I told him was, 'Just do what you do.' I'm going to get out of his way and make it as easy as possible for him to learn the system we have. I told him, 'They're going to hand you the ball, and you just run like you always do. We'll be just fine.'
Tonight we have a nice event at the resort, a welcoming party, and the group Train is performing. I'm a big Train fan, so I'm really fired up to see them. Later this week, I think Coach McCarthy is arranging a get-together for our coaching staff and all of the families.
This is a trip our family will always remember, and just to be a part of this with all the greats in the NFL is truly a privilege.
To see some behind-the-scenes photos with the NFC squad, click here.