NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Taylor Lewan kept his word to Titans general manager Jon Robinson.
"I told Jon Robinson when we had a conversation in April," Lewan recalled on Wednesday, "before we even went to the draft. I said, 'I am going to go to the Pro Bowl this year.' Obviously it is an individual goal every year, and my focus is more on team accomplishments than anything else. But that's what I told him."
The Titans are 8-6, and Lewan has been one of the game's highest-graded tackles all season on an offensive line that's allowed just 21 quarterbacks sacks while paving the way for the NFL's third-ranked rushing attack, led by running back DeMarco Murray, who is ranked No.2 in the league with 1,224 rushing yards.
Lewan, the team's first-round draft pick in 2014 out of Michigan, kept his promise to Robinson, and he's happy about it.
"I figured I was a man of my word this season, and I hope to continue to do that (every season),'' Lewan said. "When I found out (I made it) I was pretty taken aback. I knew I had played up to the level you should play at, but you don't always get what you deserve and I think a lot of guys on this team deserved to get it that didn't get it. Going to the Pro Bowl is a big accomplishment. … There's a lot of great tackles out there."
On Wednesday, Titans coach Mike Mularkey offered high praise for Lewan, one of five Titans selected to the Pro Bowl.
"Well, he deserved it,'' Mularkey said of Lewan. "There's no question about it. He deserved to be named to the Pro Bowl, but that started way back even before April. I mean, this guy has been in here working as hard as anybody in the weight room, in the meetings. He's been outstanding in everything we've wanted him to do. He came in this offseason with a great approach and has never wavered and has played at a high level. That's a good sign we're going in the right direction with him but a good sign for other players to watch how he did it.
"This year, he came in here and did it the right way. He's been recognized for it."
Lewan on Wednesday said he'd like to see right tackle Jack Conklin, an alternate for the Pro Bowl, join him in Orlando at this year's game. Running back DeMarco Murray and tight end Delanie Walker from the offense will join him there, and quarterback Marcus Mariota and fullback Jalson Fowler are alternates, too.
Time will tell if the alternates make it.
Over time, Lewan has been able to establish himself and build a reputation for his work on the field, and he's proud of that, too. Earlier in Lewan's career, he sometimes drew attention to himself for penalties, and things aside from his work in the trenches.
"My agent actually told me the fan vote (for me) was terrible because the media market we're in is obviously a lot smaller than other places like L.A. and Miami and places like that,'' Lewan said. "But the players and coaches vote was pretty high, and that is an awesome thing to be recognized by your peers and other coaches in this league as one of the best tackles in the NFL so it is a good feeling for sure."
Titans players take the field for Wednesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)