ORLANDO — Last week, quarterback Jared Goff was named Most Improved Player by the Pro Football Writers of America. And with good reason — Goff showed significant progress and development throughout 2017, finishing the year with 3,804 yards passing, 28 passing touchdowns, and just seven interceptions.
Now the 23-year-old quarterback is with five of his teammates in Florida for the 2018 Pro Bowl. Goff went through his first practice with the NFC squad on Wednesday and was clearly having a good time with his fellow conference All-Stars.
"It was fun," Goff said after practice. "Good to be with all these guys, good to spend some time with guys around the league, and some of these coaches. It was a good day."
Goff agreed the Pro Bowl is a "humbling" experience, considering the players he's calling teammates during this week.
"Got guys like Drew [Brees] and Russell [Wilson] — both won Super Bowls. Spending time with them, learning stuff from them," Goff said. "And just so many guys — Jason Witten. So many guys just on our team alone. It's a lot of fun."
The Rams have a total of eight Pro Bowlers — Goff, running back Todd Gurley, left tackle Andrew Whitworth, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, kicker Greg Zuerlein, punter Johnny Hekker, long snapper Jake McQuaide, and returner Pharoh Cooper — but Zuerlein and Donald are not participating in this season's festivities. Nevertheless, Goff said it's good to see familiar faces on the field, adding it was nice to hand off to Gurley as usual.
"Some familiarity, especially in that special teams unit. Get to see some familiar faces, so that helps as well," Goff said.
As one of Goff's teammates, Whitworth said he's glad to see the quarterback's hard work pay off in this trip to the Pro Bowl. And Whitworth added he expects the signal-caller to make the most of the week.
"I'm happy to see him here just to have an opportunity to be around some of these guys, be a sponge, and see if there's something he can learn, something he can be a part of to realize how special his season was. But also where he can go, and who he can learn from," Whitworth said. "And being around these guys and in this environment — sometimes you never know what you'll pick up or just get a little feeling of how to do the game a better way, how to be a better player."
Aside from game prep, Goff said he's looking forward to playing a little golf this week. But he also had to get ready for the Pro Bowl skills challenge, where he was competing in the precision passing drill. With the competition staged just after Wednesday's practice, Goff said he had to go make sure he was loose before competing to win.
The Pro Bowl Skills Showdown will air at 6 p.m. PT on ESPN on Thursday.
Check out photos of Rams players taking part in the first day of festivities at the 2018 Pro Bowl.
Ben Liebenberg/NFL Logan Bowles/NFL