JACKSONVILLE – It was very much an honor, but to Paul Posluszny, it was more.
Posluszny, the Jaguars' middle linebacker who on Sunday played in his first Pro Bowl, spent last week in Honolulu, Hawaii, preparing for the game with many of the NFL's best players.
Posluszny, a seven-year veteran who is considered a Jaguars locker room leader with an exemplary approach to the game, said when it came to how elite players approach the profession, he learned some things last week and had other things confirmed.
He also said he learned a couple of things about the Pro Bowl.
One is he wants to go back.
Another is he wants to do what it takes to get there.
"I want to do everything I can to get back," Posluszny said from Hawaii on Monday morning. "I'm fully aware the reason I was here is because the guys from San Francisco didn't come. I want to make it outright, so I have to do everything I can to play better than what I did last year.
"Being around these guys, you say, 'OK, I see what it takes. I see what I need to do.' It gives you extra motivation to be better."
Go #TeamSanders: LIVE at the 2014 #ProBowlDraft with #PaulPosluszny pic.twitter.com/AnTUPYbG0O — NFL Network (@nflnetwork) January 23, 2014
Posluszny, who was named to the game as an alternate early last week when 49ers linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman withdrew, played for "Team Sanders," which lost to "Team Rice" 22-21 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sunday.
"This was so exciting to be a part of," he said. "To be at the Pro Bowl, with the NFL's best, it was very special to me. It's one of the many goals that you work for. You want to work to play at a level where you're included in that group, so it's very meaningful.
"When you look around at the guys who were there, when you see the way they move around the field and carry themselves, it was obvious you were around some of the best in the league. It was special to be a part of that. I was very fortunate to go."
While Posluszny has played in and started 92 NFL games, he said without question there were, "Wow" moments last week. One such moment came during the game.
Posluszny said he was in the huddle at one point and looked at the Team Sanders defensive line. At end, there were Mario Williams of Buffalo and J.J. Watt of Houston. At tackle, there were Ndamukong Suh of Detroit and Dontari Poe of Kansas City.
"I'm thinking, 'If you could create a defensive line and what players would look like, these are the guys,'" Posluszny said. "It was special to be around those players. I was very fortunate."
Pretty easy to make tackles behind that line?
"Yeah, and they were ready to get after the quarterback, too," he said with a laugh.
Posluszny said he liked the rules implemented for this year's game, including having a "draft" of Pro Bowl-eligible players by Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders onto teams bearing their names and having a change-of-possession and two-minute warnings at the end of each quarter.
The Team Sanders and Team Rice concept eliminated the old AFC-NFC format, and created for the first time the scenario in which Pro Bowl players were playing against teammates.
"I'm sure it was unique for some guys because they were playing against teammates, but I thought it worked out really well," he said. "Everybody got a chance to play and everybody got a chance to compete. The game moved fast, and it was an exciting game."
Posluszny had four tackles in the game and narrowly missed an interception.
"We were in man coverage, and they threw the ball to (Atlanta Falcons tight end) Tony Gonzalez in the seam," he said. "I should have made a better play on it. I got a hand on it. That's what happens when you don't catch a football for three weeks. You lose those skills."
The #ProBowl is underway! Time for Poz to show everyone what Duval is all about! Go #TeamSanders! pic.twitter.com/SMERKuxJe3 — Jacksonville Jaguars (@jaguars) January 27, 2014
While the Pro Bowl is very much a postseason all-star game and a chance for players to relax and spend time with their peers, Posluszny said it also was an opportunity to get to know players with whom he had competed.
"It was interesting to see and listen to how other guys prepare and go through the game week," Posluszny said. "Some guys after playing Sunday like to get in on Monday and start preparing for the next week. Other guys say, 'I need two days to rest and recover, then I start my preparation on Wednesday.' What you learned is you have to do what works best for you, but everybody has a lot of hard work that goes into it.
"To be around some of those guys I've watched for years … to have the opportunity to play with them and get to know them a little better was a great experience."