NASHVILLE – Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith made it to the Pro Bowl 11 times in his playing career, racking up 200 career sacks along the way.
Since retiring from the NFL in 2003, the former Bills and Redskins star has been a student of the game.
Among the players he's kept an eye on: Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey
"I think he's a fantastic player – that's what I think about him," Smith said of Casey. "And I think what he's been able to do, he's put himself into a completely different category of player."
Casey ended the 2019 season with 61 tackles, 30 quarterback pressures and five sacks. Casey had two sacks in the team's playoff win at Baltimore on January 11.
As a Pro Bowl Legends captain for the AFC defense, Smith spent some time around the Titans defensive lineman in Orlando last month, after Casey was named to the Pro Bowl in 2019 for the fifth straight season. If not for twice turning down a chance to go to the Pro Bowl as an alternate, Casey would have seven Pro Bowl trips to his name by now.
Smith believes Casey's career has crossed into the "special" category.
"The fact that he's been able to sustain that level of play for an extended period of time sets him apart from guys who are able to do it once or twice, or three times," Smith said of Casey. "His body of work, he is still amassing that. It is not complete. But when you are able to continue to play at such a high level for an extended period of time, you start to separate yourself from being a good player and into a different category. I really like his game."
In 2019, Casey became the seventh player in team annals to reach 50 career sacks (51), and his five sacks during the season made him the organization's first player since Ray Childress (1986-1994) to tally at least five sacks in seven straight seasons.
A third-round draft pick by the Titans in 2011, Casey has been credited with 221 quarterback pressures in his nine-year NFL career.
At the Pro Bowl, Casey already started to look ahead to his 10th NFL season – he wants to keep the momentum rolling. At the start of his NFL career, Casey said he wanted to be a Hall of Famer one day himself.
"I'm going to play until the wheels come off, or until the Tennessee Titans tell me they don't want me no more," Casey said. "As long as my family, my household, is cool with me playing and my body feels good, I will continue to play. Once it starts to impact my household or my mental state, then it will be time for me to reconsider my goals from here on out. But right now, I can only see playing, and playing for a lot longer time. And I still have a lot to play for.
"I want to get that ring – that's what drives me now. I have done a lot in this game, but I want a ring on my finger."
Titans Online looks back at DT Jurrell Casey's 2019 Pro Bowl season that saw him register 61 tackles, five sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and 30 QB pressures, plus two sacks in the AFC Divisional-round victory at Baltimore. (Photos: Donald Page)