KAHUKU, Hawaii—If this year's Pro Bowl comes to an unexpected early end, you can blame Bobby Wagner.
You see, the Seahawks middle linebacker, who will play for Team Rice Sunday, plans on going hard in his first Pro Bowl, and for Wagner, going hard includes sacking Russell Wilson, who is on Team Irvin.
"I'm going hard, man," Wagner said after his team's first practice of the week at the Turtle Bay Resort. "I'm going hard. I'm out here, I might as well go hard."
Even if going hard means tackling Wilson?
"I'm going to hit Russell, I already told him that," Wagner said. "If I sack him, I'm not even going to get up. I'm just going to lay on him and they're going to have to call the game."
On a week that is a lot more about fun and rewarding a season's worth of accomplishments than it is about actual football, Seahawks players are having a lot of fun with a format that is new to them. Since the Seahawks have played in the past two Super Bowls, this is the first year they are experiencing the new "unconferenced" version of the Pro Bowl, which means while Wilson, Michael Bennett and Richard Sherman are playing for Michael Irvin's team, Wagner and Tyler Lockett are playing on Jerry Rice's squad.
This, of course, leads to some inevitable playful trash talk between players who are teammates the rest of the year, but on opposing teams this week.
"Bobby's a fast player, can make a lot of plays, but I'm a little bit faster," Wilson said with a grin when told of Wagner's intentions. "So I'm not worried about Tyler and Bobby defeating us. I'm going to take the other three Seahawks, and hopefully we win."
And Wagner isn't just stopping with Wilson, he even wants a piece of a fellow defensive player. Wagner had heard Sherman might try to get a few plays in at receiver, and again, he'll be ready if that happens.
"I'm pretty sure we're going to talk a lot of trash, especially number 25," Wagner said. "If he tries to play offense, I will hit for sure… He's been talking about trying to get at least five plays. He says he's going to run a slant. If he runs a slant, it's a wrap. I'm just going to take a hit. I don't care where it's at. I'll let him feel me.
"As soon as we found out we were on opposite teams, he was talking trash about he's going to run a route in my face. If he does that, I'm just going to clothesline him."
With receivers like Julio Jones and A.J. Green on Team Irvin, Sherman has no delusions that he'll actually be catching passes, but he added, "I wish they would let me block (Wagner) one time. I just want to come in on a run play, I think I'd block him pretty good, and he's terrified of that. Make sure you tell him that."
But even if Sherman vs. Wagner isn't likely to happen, Sherman vs. Lockett could be a fun Pro Bowl matchup. While Lockett was voted to the Pro Bowl as a returner, he'll get a chance to play receiver as well, and both had plenty to say about that potential matchup.
"I'm going to jam his little chest in," Sherman said. "He knows that."
Told Lockett had been talking a big game, Sherman replied, "I know what he said. But he's also an eighth grader."
When a reporter tried to change topics, asking about the little kids at practice who were calling out his name, Sherman interrupted with, "Is that Tyler Lockett? You talking about Tyler?"
Asked about a potential matchup with Sherman, Lockett said very deliberately, "I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to it.
"I would have to tell you to stay tuned. We've been talking about this matchup ever since I got to Seattle. So now it's about to happen. We were hoping we were on different teams. Jermaine (Kearse) used to say, 'Somebody's got to get this work.' So me and Sherm, somebody's got to get this work."
Photos of Seahawks return specialist Tyler Lockett and linebacker Bobby Wagner as they participate in the first practice of Pro Bowl week with Team Rice in Hawaii.