ORLANDO, Fla. —** Taylor Lewan is the new kid on the block at the Pro Bowl, and with that, comes a little teasing.
But the Titans left tackle says that's cool with him.
"A lot of the guys, the older dudes like Joe Thomas and Andrew Whitworth, those guys are like 11 and 12 years in. I am just a tackle in year 3 at my first Pro Bowl,'' Lewan said after Wednesday's practice. "So guys can make fun of me all they want, because this is awesome.
"Being around some of these guys and being able to learn from them, it is pretty unbelievable to be honest. I am the new guy coming in and I want to follow in their footsteps and be able to learn from them. They are some Hall of Fame guys. It is awesome."
Lewan arrived at his first Pro Bowl earlier this week, and practiced for the first time Wednesday.
On the AFC squad, Lewan is surrounded by veterans like Cleveland's Thomas and Cincinnati's Whitworth, a pair of perennial Pro Bowl tackles. Thomas is at his 10th Pro Bowl.
Lewan is also surrounded by Titans. In addition to Lewan, Titans running back DeMarco Murray, tight end Delanie Walker, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and linebacker Brian Orakpo are also in Orlando.
Five Titans players compete in the 2017 AFC/NFC Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla. (Photos: AP, Amber Harding)
"We were hanging out this morning before we got on the bus,'' Lewan said. "It was cool to have all five of us hanging out, representing the Tennessee Titans, too. The last couple of years weren't what we wanted, but having this many guys at the Pro Bowl is a sign we are going places."
It was a heck of a 2016 season for Lewan.
A first round pick by the Titans in the 2014 NFL Draft, Lewan was one of the game's highest-graded tackles all season on an offensive line that allowed just 24 quarterback sacks while paving the way for the NFL's third-ranked rushing attack, led by Murray, who finished with an AFC best 1,287 rushing yards.
One of Lewan's biggest thrills so far has been hearing feedback from his peers, he said.
"It is a really cool thing, being around those guys and telling me how well I did this year, and I have been saying the same thing back to them," Lewan said. "Talking to them, and how everyone has been so complimentary, it has been awesome. It is pretty awesome to be known as one of the best tackles in the NFL."
Titans general manager Jon Robinson and coach Mike Mularkey said Lewan earned the trip, and the praise.
Lewan promised Robinson at the start of the season he would make it to the Pro Bowl. Robinson said Lewan was adamant about his role for 2016 before the season began.
"Taylor and I have a good relationship,'' Robinson said. "Not to speak for him, but I don't think he had the best season in 2015. I think he felt frustrated at himself. I thought he played good football but I don't think he played great football all the time and I think it is a testament to Taylor, a testament to the o-line room, a testament to (offensive line coach) Russ Grimm certainly with how he improved.
"Taylor came up and talked to me (last offseason) and said he's the left tackle of this football team. He said 'You can draft whoever you want but I am just telling you, 'I am the left tackle of this football team." I said, "Listen: If you go out and show us you are the left tackle of this football team, you will be the left tackle of this football team. But that is up to you. I like you as a football player, I love your competitive spirit and your edge. We need you to go out there and show it in OTAs, we need you to show it in minicamp. We need you to show that in training camp. We need you to show that in Week 1. We need you to show that in Week 16.' And I think he took that, not as challenge from me, because I think he had already challenged himself to show me, the coaches the fans, his teammates, the rest of the league that he could play this game at a high, high level, at the left tackle position. And I think he did that."
Titans players join other NFL stars in preparation for the 2017 AFC/NFC Pro Bowl in Orlando, Fla. (Photos: Amber Harding, AP)