Titans TE Delanie Walker Still Going Up at Pro Bowl


ORLANDO, Fla. – Delanie Walker's favorite ride in this theme park wonderland is at Universal Studios.

The Titans tight end is all about adrenalin rushes, and the 'Rip Ride Rockit' gets it done.

"Oh man, the Rockit," Walker said with a smile. "It goes up and it drops real fast."

Walker's NFL career has been the opposite. He's kept going up, with no drop off.

The 12th year pro this week is enjoying his third straight Pro Bowl.

"I think what Delanie has done in his career, and in Tennessee, has been impressive," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, an 11-time Pro Bowler, said. "Delanie is a guy who was a rotational player in San Francisco, and once he got an opportunity in Tennessee he has taken his skillset to another level.

"He has evolved as a player, and as a blocker. He is consistent. Some guys can show flash, but to be able to play like that week in and week out, Delanie has proven he is one of the best at the position."

Walker, who joined the Titans in 2013 after playing his first seven seasons with the 49ers, led the Titans with 74 catches for 807 yards and three touchdowns in 2017. He's caught 356 passes for 4,156 yards and 26 touchdowns during the past five years in Tennessee.

At the end of the season, Witten led all active tight end in receptions and receiving yards. Walker is seventh on the list, but he's No.1 in the NFL catches among tight ends since 2013, ahead of Witten (346).

Walker has 27 receptions of 25-plus yards since 2014, which ranks behind only New England's Rob Gronkowski (48) and Kansas City's Travis Kelce (30).

He's been getting quizzed a lot here at the Pro Bowl.

"Everybody asks me: How do I do it?," Walker said. "How do I play for so many seasons and still run like I do every down? … To hear these players say that about me, it means when they're on the sideline and we're playing against them, that's what they are saying: How is this old dude routing people up still?

"It's funny. You wouldn't think people would know your name on other teams, but guys have been coming up saying: Man, Delanie Walker, you have been killing it. How do you do it? That means a lot. I know it means a lot to me to hear younger guys say they watch my game -- that is exciting."

Walker, who's 33, said age is just a number.

"I would say I am in better shape than when I first came into the league, and I am mentally in shape as well," Walker said. "When I first got into the league I was physically in shape, and now I am both. And that has helped me play as long as I have."

Witten said Walker's all-around game makes him such a weapon.

Titans players take part in Pro Bowl practice on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018 in Kissimmee, Fla. (Photos: Nate Bain)

"He is strong, he is physical, he is fast, he is explosive," Witten said of Walker. "He has a really good feel for the zones, the soft spots. And when you have the quarterbacks that are growing like Marcus (Mariota), who is extremely talented, being able to have someone you can rely on is huge. He has the ability to stretch the field when he needs to, and he can make the short underneath plays. I think he is just a really good football player."

Walker said he's motivated by still being able to compete with the young guys, at a high level.

Here at the Pro Bowl, he's interacted with the game's best players. He's loving the experience.

So, how much longer can Walker keep it up?

Well, let's say he's not expecting a freefall. Hey, this isn't the Rockit.

"I am going to play as long as I can, until teams don't want me anymore," Walker said. "As long as I am capable of starting, I'll play in this league for a very long time."

Titans players take part in Pro Bowl practice on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018 in Kissimmee, Fla. (Photos: Nate Bain)

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