When the time came for the Tennessee Titans to find out who had made the Pro Bowl from their roster, general manager Jon Robinson came to the front of the auditorium and addressed the team – almost in game show style.
One by one, Robinson began calling off names and didn’t stop until he had rattled off five players – plus three more alternates.
Joining Orakpo as Pro Bowl picks are tackle Taylor Lewan, tight end Delanie Walker, defensive end Jurrell Casey and running back DeMarco Murray.
“It was just a blur. There were a lot of high fives. It was almost like you’re getting called on ‘The Price Is Right,’ getting called down the hallway. That’s exactly what it felt like. It was pretty cool,” said linebacker Brian Orakpo, who earned his fourth Pro Bowl berth overall and first as a Titan. “Jon came down the Hall and started talking about the Pro Bowl. It was pretty cool, because he just kept going on and on.”
Additionally, quarterback Marcus Mariota, fullback Jalston Fowler and rookie tackle Jack Conklin are alternates for the game.
For a franchise that had not had a player on the initial Pro Bowl selection since Alterraun Verner in 2013, having five players selected was quite the accomplishment.
“That’s huge. The turnaround on this team is dramatic. It’s night and day, because we have so many other guys on this team that deserved to have their name called as well.”
It certainly is a sign that the 8-6 Titans, playing the final two games to try and clinch the AFC South, have rebounded from the depths of the NFL to be competitive again. And, other than Murray, most of the Titans players were not highly regarded in the fan balloting, meaning they gained heavy support from players and coaches around the league.
“It’s a huge honor to be voted by your peers and the fans around the league. It’s a huge deal. Hopefully, we won’t have to play in it, but we’ll wait and see,” said Murray, making the point that Super Bowl teams don’t partake in the Jan. 29 game in Orlando..
For Murray (third selection), Orakpo (fourth), as well as Walker and Casey, who got into last year’s game as first alternates, the Pro Bowl is special. But it certainly means a lot to Lewan, a first-time selection for the game.
“It’s a huge accomplishment. You play this game for team awards and team accomplishments, but it’s always awesome to get a little recognition, especially on the offensive line,” Lewan said.
Lewan, whose penalties and temper have sometimes overshadowed his outstanding play, he was grateful for enough support to earn an invite.
“All the politics that go into this game sometimes, I didn’t know if I would get it,” Lewan said. “I knew that I had played well enough to have the opportunity to get it, but I didn’t know, knowing that the fan vote was so low. But the players and coaches vote pulled me in it, and it was an awesome deal.”