FOXBORO, Mass. — Like most New England Patriots fans, James Develin couldn’t care less about the Pro Bowl.
Speaking with reporters Tuesday at Gillette Stadium, the veteran fullback said being snubbed from the NFL’s annual all-star game last season — despite improving on his 2017 Pro Bowl campaign in every statistical category — didn’t matter to him.
“No,” said Develin, who lost out to Kansas City’s Anthony Sherman in Pro Bowl voting. “No. I was happy to be in the Super Bowl. That?s the real bowl we?re playing for. I didn?t really pay any attention to that. I was just happy to be playing in early February.”
Develin played a vital role in the Patriots’ run to Super Bowl LIII, during which the team morphed into a power-running outfit focused on bullying opposing defenses up front. New England rushed for eight touchdowns during its three postseason victories, and Develin served as a lead blocker on all eight of them, including Sony Michel’s Super Bowl game-winner.
Even before the playoffs, Develin enjoyed a larger role in New England’s offense than he had in any of his previous seasons. The 30-year-old set a new career high with 12 receptions on 17 targets for 61 yards and also found success in an unexpected stint as New England’s goal-line back, scoring four short-yardage touchdowns over a four-game span to up his career total to five.
“As the season progressed, I kind of started getting more and more opportunities,” Develin said. “And I had to seize those opportunities and make the most out of them. That’s kind of how it goes. Once you have those opportunities and make the most out of them, then you get more opportunities. It kind of worked out that way last year.”