Former Griz Mariani Makes the Pro Bowl

By Beacon Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee defensive end Jason Babin and rookie returner Marc Mariani have been named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster.

This is the first Pro Bowl honor for Babin, a seven-year veteran who has a career-high 12½ sacks in his first season with Tennessee. He leads all AFC defensive ends in sacks and is third in the NFL in sacks.

“Making the first Pro Bowl really means a lot to me,” said Babin, a former first-round draft pick by Houston. “It’s something I’ve been trying to get to for a long time so it’s extra special.”

He credited the Titans’ defense with fitting him so well. Not bad for someone Tennessee signed to a one-year deal.

“I’m just real, real excited and I’m ecstatic about being selected. It’s one thing to have the fans like you and people like you. But when the peers and the fans and coaches all vote and you’re selected to that unique list, it means a lot,” Babin said Tuesday night on coach Jeff Fisher’s weekly radio show.

Mariani, the Titans’ seventh-round draft pick and 222 overall out of Montana, leads the AFC and is third in the NFL averaging 12.9 yards per punt return, and he also ranks fourth in the AFC averaging 25.2 yards on kickoff returns. He just set the franchise single-season record with 1,411 yards on kickoff returns with a game remaining.

He is the only player in the NFL this season to return both a punt and kickoff for a TD and joined Billy Johnson as the only players in franchise history to do that in the same regular season. Fisher broke the news on a call the Titans taped and put on the team’s website.

“It’s just been a crazy roller-coaster ride for me,” Mariani said on WGFX 104.5 The Zone during Fisher’s show. “I’ve been so blessed … It’s been crazy, and I just enjoyed every second of it.”

Fisher said on the show that the Titans also have three players voted as first alternates, but he didn’t disclose which players because they hadn’t been told. That likely includes Chris Johnson, who ranks third in the NFL with 1,325 yards rushing and was voted to the roster during his first two seasons.

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