ORLANDO, Fla. –** Jurrell Casey has been to three straight Pro Bowls, and if not for passing on a chance to go as an alternate two other years, he’d be a five-time Pro Bowler at this point.
All of that is nice, of course, but in the mind of the Titans defensive lineman, he’s still just getting started.
“I am not done yet,” Casey said after practice on Saturday. “My goal is to play 13 seasons, and anything after that is a bonus. But 13 is my goal.”
Casey, who joined the Titans as a third-round pick in 2011, just finished his seventh NFL season. If everything goes according to plan, he’ll play until 2023 -- at least.
And, he’ll end up in the Hall of Fame.
“That has always been my goal,” Casey said, “and it still is. I’m working to get there.”
Casey is coming off another solid season. He finished the year with 72 tackles and six sacks, and he was regularly a disruptive force on the team’s defensive line. Casey has been durable and dependable for the Titans over the years, playing in 110 of 112 games in his career. He’s accumulated 539 career tackles, and 39.0 sacks.
He’s developed a reputation for being one of the league’s top defensive linemen.
“Casey, he’s a very good player, very smart,” Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva said. “He brings a lot to the table. I know when I play against him he knows exactly what he is doing on the field. He is intense, he plays with good leverage. He is very quick, and that always makes him tough to go against.”
Jaguars Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson said he’s admired Casey for years.
And he’s been picking his brain this week.
“I think Jurrell Casey is one of the best,” Jackson said. “I have been watching him since I went to the University of Tennessee, for a long time. When I watch film, watch guys go against other people, he is the first guy I go to. He is top tier. I pick his brain, and I watch his film extensively. You can get a lot from that.”
Casey takes a lot of pride in hearing comments like that from his peers.
During his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2015, Casey spent the week studying others, and asking questions from his more experienced, and more decorated Pro Bowl teammates.
Now Casey has found players coming to him for tips.
“It feels great to know folks are watching you and want to see what you are doing,” he said. “This whole experience, it is amazing. It’s about building friendships. It is a blessing, and I thank the Good Lord every day. To keep me healthy for another season, and to allow me to show out in front of my peers, it is an amazing feeling.”
Casey has no plans to let up.
He’s done his best to enjoy the experience this week. He's here with his wife, Ryann, and he invited other friends and family members to join them. Casey has gone out of his way to make sure fans enjoy it as well. Casey has been one of the last players to leave the field after practices – he’s been on the fence line signing autographs for fans.
“You have to give back to the fans,’’ he said. “Without them, none of this is possible… You have to show them love.”
Moving forward, he wants to make good on a promise he made to himself to be the best he can possibly be.
He said he also wants to reward the Titans, for believing in him from the beginning, and then rewarding him with a contract extension last offseason. Casey said he wants to prove general manager Jon Robinson right.
“I am going to continue to do my best to hold up my end of the bargain,” Casey said. “(Jon) believes in me, and I want to keep making sure I am getting better.
“I know I can do a lot more, and I’m going to keep working to get better. Put me in any situation and I am going to get the job done.”
Titans players take part in Pro Bowl practice on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 in Kissimmee, Fla. (Photos: Nate Bain)