Walker was named the 2015 Titans recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award

Tennessee Titans

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Delanie Walker is fifth at tight end, behind Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Travis Kelce and Greg Olsen. That’s a strong five-pack, and while Walker will still be a key force for the Titans, he’s 33 and the Titans have expanded their receiving corps and that could pull some passes from him.

Walker started his NFL career in San Francisco where Vernon Davis was the 49ers’ sixth pick overall, while Walker was a sixth-round pick out of Central Missouri State. After seven seasons and an appearance in the Super Bowl, Walker chose to sign with the Titans as a free agent where he has become one of the NFL’s most productive tight ends.

Disrespect is generally overplayed as motivation in the NFL and the whole league knows Walker is a fine player. But in this instance, what he read was clearly a trigger for Walker.

Walker, who turned 33 last Saturday, is a rare physical specimen at the top of his game. There aren’t many 30-plus players, outside of quarterbacks and specialists, that remain among the top five-to-seven players at their position. Recent NFL history tells him he should be preparing to disappear into retirement. He calls that a lie.

Walker says he’s happy to teach Smith because he “listens and doesn’t talk back.” Both players understand the writing on the wall due to Walker’s age and Smith’s draft status, but for now they’ll try to coexist effectively and create mismatches for defenses to figure out.

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They are free to, that’s the nice part about it. Everybody respects Delanie Walker, I know he’s about as much of a pro as I’ve ever been around, on and off the field. It’s important. If they get a chance to speak, they’re allowed to you.

Nike Titans #82 Delanie Walker Black Youth Stitched NFL Limited Gold Salute to Service Jersey
Nike Titans #82 Delanie Walker Black Youth Stitched NFL Limited Gold Salute to Service Jersey

Walker is entering the final season of his current contract. The Titans reworked the final year and added two more seasons, meaning he is signed through 2018, the source said.

Matey said the Youngs’ vehicle was stopped on the shoulder of Interstate 10 in LaPlace, just west of New Orleans, when it was hit by a car driven by 26-year-old Nechole T. Thomas of Houston.

Players are elected to the Pro Bowl based on voting from fans, players and coaches, with each counting one-third. Casey finished eighth in the fan voting portion, while Walker finished ninth.

He’s also been a big role model. Earlier this month, Walker was named the 2015 Titans recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. It marked the second time Walker received the honor, after being named the Titans Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2013. The award recognizes a player for his excellence on and off the field, and Walker has been a community hero in Tennessee.

Walker is coming off a Pro Bowl season, when he set new team records among tight ends with 94 receptions and 1,088 receiving yards. He broke his own receiving yardage record and Frank Wycheck’s reception record for franchise tight ends.

Delanie Walker jersey

The Titans managed to check off some of those boxes, but not enough in their 16-10 loss to the Dolphins, not on a day when Mariota was sidelined with a strained hamstring.

What appeared to be a 59-yard touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker was called back because of a penalty. Later, officials ruled Cassel fumbled on what appeared to be an incomplete pass. The Dolphins picked the ball up, and returned it for a touchdown.

Matthews, whose father served 23 years in the Marines and whose brother, another Marine, died in Afghanistan two years ago, has been vocal in his stance against racial injustice and Tennessee Titans jerseys and police brutality. His protest was launched shortly after President Donald Trump’s attacks toward NFL players who choose to protest. Matthews previously refrained from protesting in respect of his brother, but after Trump’s comments, he said his brother would understand his intentions going forward.

Tight end Delanie Walker, who led the Titans in receptions in 2014 and 2015, and shared the lead in 2016, would welcome a speedster who could help take the top off a defense.

So when Walker started yapping at some of the Titans’ receivers about still being the man in this offense, Matthews wasn’t going to sit back and let that fly. A friendly, vocal competition was born.

In the end, the Titans suffered a disappointing defeat, one that dropped them out of a first-place tie in the AFC South heading into next week’s Monday-night game against visiting Indianapolis.