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VOL. 132 | NO. 20 | Friday, January 27, 2017

Fans Finally Get to Enjoy Watching Titans’ Players in Pro Bowl Again

BY TERRY McCORMICK, Nashville Sports Correspondent

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For those needing a Titans fix this week, there are a couple of things to occupy your mind and perhaps pique your curiosity.

Titans players Delanie Walker (82), Jurrell Casey (99) and Brian Orakpo (98) will be joined by teammates Taylor Lewan and DeMarco Murray at the Pro Bowl on Sunday night. Jack Conklin and Jalston Fowler could also find their way in if others bow out.

(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

First, there is one last chance to get another glimpse at the 2016 Tennessee Titans, who finished a surprising 9-7.

OK, it’s really a glimpse of five players from the 2016 Titans, those who were selected to represent Tennessee in the annual Pro Bowl.

DeMarco Murray, Taylor Lewan, Delanie Walker, Jurrell Casey and Brian Orakpo will all participate in the league’s all-star game, which will be broadcast Sunday night (7 p.m. CST) on ESPN.

Three more were named as alternates, but none have yet been added (Marcus Mariota was unable to be added due to his broken fibula). Jack Conklin and Jalston Fowler are still on standby, if needed.

The simple fact that any Titans players are in the game is an accomplishment, since this is the first time since 2013 that a Tennessee player was elected outright to be a part of the Pro Bowl. Last season, Casey and Walker eventually earned their way into the game as alternates, but this is the first time since cornerback Alterraun Verner was chosen three years ago that the Titans have had a representative make it on the first ballot.

Also, the fact that five Titans are on their way to the game in Orlando is a nice achievement. Tennessee has not had that many players earn Pro Bowl bids since six Titans were selected following the 2008 season.

This is a good sign that things are finally looking up for the Titans organization after recent years filled with struggles and failures.

While those five players will be giving one final nod to 2016, the Titans coaching staff and front office are already getting started on 2017, with the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

Unofficially, the Senior Bowl kind of kicks off the NFL off-season, even though it comes a week before the Super Bowl.

For the most part, the Senior Bowl isn’t about finding blue-chip first-rounders, although that can and does happen. The real purpose of the Senior Bowl and all the other all-star games is to evaluate players against each other to see which ones are the right fit for the system and in the locker room.

A big part of the Senior Bowl and other all-star games comes in discovering those middle and late-round gems who turn into quality starters at need positions and help to bolster a roster with young talent that can contribute right way.

Just last season, Titans general manager Jon Robinson drafted three players who took part in the 2016 Senior Bowl, snagging defensive tackle Austin Johnson in the second round, safety Kevin Byard in the third round and guard prospect Sebastian Tretola in the sixth round. Additionally, though he did not get to play in the game due to a quadriceps injury, Titans rookie receiver Tajae Sharpe was supposed to play in the Senior Bowl, as well.

For armchair general managers and would-be scouts, it’s the chance to keep an eye on the players who turn heads and show off their skills this week in Mobile. And keep your fingers crossed, a few of them just might be wearing two-tone blue in a couple of months.

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com

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