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Five Titans Selected to 2017 Pro Bowl Team


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans received a big high five on Tuesday when the Pro Bowl teams were announced by the NFL.

Five Titans players were selected Pro Bowlers running back DeMarco Murray, linebacker Brian Orakpo, tight end Delanie Walker, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and left tackle Taylor Lewan.

It's the highest total since 2008, when six players were voted to the Pro Bowl, and eight eventually made it when alternates were added to the team.

The Titans have also been informed three other players are alternates: Quarterback Marcus Mariota, right tackle Jack Conklin and fullback Jalston Fowler.

This year's game will be played on January 29 in Orlando, Florida.

"It just shows what winning can do for an organization,'' Casey said earlier in the day, when he said he expected a "ton" of Titans to make it. "It just brings the attention and the light on us, and that is what it takes. It just shows we are putting out the players and putting out the production on the field on Sundays and we are getting the job done."

Casey played in his first Pro Bowl a year ago, along with Walker, when the Titans finished 3-13.

The Titans are 8-6 this season with two games to play, and in control of their own destiny in the AFC South with upcoming games against the Jaguars and Texans.

The success of individuals has also led to success for the team.

"It's a great recognition for the player and for the team,'' coach Mike Mularkey said of Pro Bowl selections. "I think the team has a lot to do with it. Obviously, it's individual, but I think the team is a big part of it."

Murray is a Pro Bowl selection for the third time in his career, and the first time since 2014 when he played for the Dallas Cowboys. Murray ranks second in the NFL with 1,124 rushing yards, and he has nine touchdowns. He's also caught 50 passes for 361 yards and three touchdowns. It's been a heck of a turnaround season for Murray, a player the Titans acquired via trade from the Eagles during the offseason.

"He's done everything we've asked,'' Mularkey said of Murray. "He's what we saw on tape. It's what I saw in person when the Cowboys came in here and he ran for 182 yards in front of me. I didn't have to watch tape to know what he's capable of doing. I knew what he was capable of doing. He's got plenty of tread still on his tires."

Orakpo is a Pro Bowl selection for the fourth time in his career, and for the first time since 2013. He leads the Titans with 11 sacks. Orakpo joined the Titans prior to the 2015 season after playing his first six seasons with the Redskins, where he went to the Pro Bowl in 2009, 2010, and 2013.

"I've been before, and it's a great experience,'' Orakpo said. "The main thing for me is I just want the Titans to get more recognition that is my No.1 thing. If the Titans get more recognition, I will be pleased regardless, that is my No.1 thing.

"My individual goal was to hit double-digit sacks, and I did that already, so now everything else is icing on the cake."

It will be Lewan's first Pro Bowl trip. A first-round pick by the Titans in 2014, Lewan has been consistent all season in pass protection and run blocking. He's part of an offensive line that's allowed just 21 sacks on the season, and paved the way for the NFL's third-ranked rushing offense.

Lewan has started all 14 games this season, and played in 40 games in his first three seasons.

"I think there's a lot of guys on this o-line that deserve it," Lewan said Tuesday. "I think there's a lot of guys on this team that deserve it."

Walker followed up last season with another big year. Walker has 57 catches for 742 yards and six touchdowns in 2016. Casey also continues to perform at a high level, which earned him a follow-up trip. On the season, Casey has 45 tackles, 24 quarterback pressures and three sacks.

There's a chance Mariota could join them at the Pro Bowl. The same goes for Conklin, the team's first round pick this year, and Fowler.

The 2017 Pro Bowl will feature a return to the traditional AFC vs. NFC game format following three years using a revised, "unconferenced" format.

The Pro Bowlers are determined by the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches.

"For me personally, it would definitely be a dream come true, but I really believe there's a lot of guys in that locker room that deserve it,'' Mariota, who has thrown for 3,327 yards and 25 touchdowns on the season, said earlier on Tuesday.

"They've worked hard all year, they've made great plays, and it's always kind of fun to see guys get a little bit of recognition for that. I really believe that those guys deserve it. It will be interesting to see what happens tonight. Hopefully, a few of those guys in the locker room get what they deserve."

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