Orlando – Cam Jordan and Mark Ingram II aren't joined at the hip. They don't complete each other's sentences – or, at least, not all of them.
But the New Orleans Saints teammates are about as close as two men can be, first-round draft picks in 2011 (Jordan, a defensive end, at No. 24 and Ingram, a running back, at No. 28) who have shared triumphs and tribulations, successes and setbacks, victories and gut-wrenching losses.
Now, they're finally sharing the Pro Bowl experience as teammates.
This year is Jordan's third Pro Bowl appearance, and it's the second time for Ingram. But their previous appearances didn't coincide with one another, with Jordan's years (2013 and '15) sandwiched around Ingram's year ('14).
Needless to say, each couldn't be happier and more proud of the other.
Jordan earned his spot with a career-high 13 sacks, 11 passes defensed, almost 30 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and an interception for a touchdown. Ingram earned his with a career-high 1,124 rushing yards on 230 carries, 12 rushing touchdowns (one short of tying the franchise single-season mark) and 416 receiving yards on 58 catches.
Saints players and staff prepare for the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl during NFC practice on Thursday, Jan. 25.
"My dawg. My dawg," Jordan said. "Once we got drafted, we said we were going to take over and now this is coming to fruition. We talk about (quarterback) Drew (Brees), Mark being the heart of the offense, the way that he came in and took over this year.
"That 1-2 (running back) combo between him and Alvin (Kamara), but really, who punches people in the mouth first? It's Mark. So when we talk about what he brings to the field, that's just awesome for me as a – I don't know if I'll say big brother, but I am taller."
Said Ingram: "That's my brother. We've been in the league since 2011 together and to be able to experience this with him, that's special for us. Our families were at Universal (Studios on Thursday), we'll be at Disney today. I've made two Pro Bowls, he's made three, but we were never able to be at the same one. So it's a blessing to be able to be here with one of my best guys."
The journey has been a long one for the two, long enough that each now has a family that includes two children.
"It's different now," Jordan said. "We're dads this time around. Our first Pro Bowl, we were out there just Euro-stepping. (But) being in Orlando is super fun. We talk about being able to be in the Pro Bowl not only is a great blessing from God for the family, but to be here with your boys. We're seven deep."
The Saints, in fact, have the second-most players in the Pro Bowl (Pittsburgh had eight named to the AFC squad). And with the Saints' coaches handling the NFC team, the squad has a distinct New Orleans feel to it.
"We're killin it, man," Ingram said. "We had a big year and we weren't able to finish the way we wanted to, but we were able to be NFC South champs, we were able to have seven guys here at the Pro Bowl, our coaching staff, training staff, equipment staff. It's just family here, we're enjoying it, having a great time. That's what it's all about, enjoying yourself and being with the guys."