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Scottsdale, Ariz. native Taylor Lewan is on his way back to the Grand Canyon State Wednesday, but the convenient overlap with Super Sunday takes a back seat to the real purpose for the homecoming.
The Titans selected Lewan 11th overall in last year’s NFL Draft. The next day Lewan flew to Nashville for his introductory press conference at Saint Thomas Sports Park. He then flew back to Arizona for only a day to gather his things before settling into his new home in the south.
This is the first time the Super Bowl has been in Glendale since 2008 – the game better known for David Tyree’s helmet catch to help the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Lewan remembers the game — he was a junior in high school — but he didn’t go to that Super Bowl either, despite being just 20 miles away in Scottsdale.
Lewan said he has no plans to be in attendance at any Super Bowl until he’s running out of the tunnel as a participant.
Jacksonville, however, opted for offense and selected Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles from the third overall spot. The selection of Bortles occurs three years after the Jaguars drafted QB Blaine Gabbert from the 10th overall spot in 2011. Jacksonville traded Gabbert to San Francisco this offseason.
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Lewan was one of 30 top prospects invited to attend the first night of the draft at New York’s Radio City Music Hall and became a Titan when Tennessee selected him with the 11th overall pick. Lewan flew to Nashville Friday so he could be introduced during a press conference. Prior to that session, Lewan quickly worked in individual interviews with television stations. He left Saint Thomas Sports Park shortly after hoisting the jersey for a quick trip to his home in Arizona. The offensive tackle is schedule to return to Nashville next week.
“I want to welcome Taylor Lewan to Music City. We’re excited to have him,” Webster said. “As we stated last night, we feel we were very fortunate that we were able to pick him. We’ve had several conversations over the past few months, and I’m looking forward to what he can be for us in the future.”
Tennessee drafted Lewan as the heir apparent to the decade-long staple at left tackle Michael Roos. The team’s left tackle of the future joined the starting lineup earlier than expected when Roos went down with a season ending knee-injury in Week 5 against the Browns.
“I think in the end we are going to try and Tennessee Titans jersey china put our best five up there that give us a chance to win football games. Right now Taylor Lewan is our left tackle and we’re proud that he is our left tackle.”
One of the illegal use of hands calls against Lewan was declined because the Bills recorded a sack on the play. “We ended up getting 1st and 10s off those penalties, but it is still no excuse,’’ he said. “Everyone needs to be responsible for his actions, and as a leader on this team I cannot have those penalties.
“Since I have been in the NFL for 10 seasons, an offensive lineman has always been a leader,’’ Walker said. “I think he sees himself in that role. He plays like it. He plays tough every play. And that’s what you want. I always say this: Offensive linemen need to be dogs. I like them dirty, nasty, and he fits that role. And I think that is why we get along so well, because I have that mindset.
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The Titans acquired the 6-foot-8, 321-pound Kelly in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles back in August for receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Kelly played in the team’s first nine games, including three starts when the team lined up with an extra tight end to start games. In previous games, he’s stepped in to play some tackle, and played a big role on special teams.
And then on Sunday he found himself entering the game on the team’s third offensive play after Lewan was ejected. Kelly stepped in at left tackle, and the Titans didn’t skip a beat on offense. What Titans tackle Taylor Lewan and Bills guard Richie Incognito are: best of friends. And they’re living it up together here at the Pro Bowl.
Mild-mannered on a phone line, Taylor Lewan is expected to be anything but on the line of scrimmage.
And they’re not afraid to stir things up with a physical style of play that oftentimes rubs players on other teams the wrong way. “I think we are kind of kindred spirits,’’ Incognito said after Friday’s practice. “We are both hard-working guys, both tough guys, and we both play at a high level and I think we just hit it off because we enjoy working out so hard. We both push each other all offseason. We’ve spent a lot of time together. Now, we’re best of friends.”
After wrapping up practice on Wednesday, and admitting “I don’t know what the hell is going on yet,” Lewan said he’s determined to make it to the Pro Bowl again. He said he wants to make it to the playoffs as well, a goal the 9-7 Titans fell just short of in 2016.