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John DeShazier: Marshon Lattimore having fun with first Pro Bowl experience

Saints rookie has been rubbing elbows with league's other elite corners

Orlando – Sticky coverage hasn't been the order of the day during practice at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. So New Orleans Saints rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore hasn't had a reason to show off the talents that made him a member of the NFC Pro Bowl team, and a leading candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Like every other Pro Bowler, Lattimore simply has been enjoying the fruits of his labor, which mainly has consisted of rubbing elbows with elite NFL players at his position, cornerbacks such as Patrick Peterson of Arizona, Xavier Rhodes of Minnesota and Darius Slay of Detroit.

"I've been loving it all week," he said. "Being around all these great players around the league, just seeing them and trying to learn from them. And them telling me that they respect my game, that's a big thing to me."

Lattimore, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2017 draft, proved early that he would earn the respect he has been given.

He was a Game 1 starter and led the Saints in interceptions (five, including one returned for a touchdown) and passes defensed (18), while also forcing a fumble and totaling 52 tackles. He held his own, and more, against Atlanta's Julio Jones and Tampa Bay's Mike Evans, two of the league's best receivers.

Lattimore had two interceptions against Atlanta (Jones voiced respect for his work because of his ability to travel with No. 1 receivers), and Evans' frustration boiled over in the form of him tackling Lattimore after a play, from behind, after Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston stirred up a confrontation with Lattimore while Winston was on the bench with an injury.

The Ohio State rookie didn't back down then, or ever, during the season. But this week has consisted of a good deal more play than work.

Saints players and staff prepare for the 2018 NFL Pro Bowl during NFC practice on Thursday, Jan. 25.

"We've just been having fun out here," Lattimore said. "That's all we've been doing, having fun and enjoying each other's company.

"It's a great experience. I've got my whole family down here, we're just having fun. It's been a great experience from Day 1. I'm enjoying myself."

The enjoyment will continue through the game Sunday at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, but it will be set aside long enough to be competitive. Because Lattimore, and his teammates, want to win.

And there's incentive to do so, in addition to bragging rights.

Each member of the winning Pro Bowl team will receive $67,000; members of the losing team will pocket $34,000.

"I hope we can get that win because I need that little extra (money)," Lattimore said, laughing.

"I'm looking forward to the game. I need that extra money. (But) I just want to have fun in the game. This is my first year, this is my first time being in Orlando."

First time being in Orlando, but maybe not the last time he'll be a Pro Bowler.

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