ENGLEWOOD, Colo. —As Phillip Lindsay left the field Saturday night after the Broncos' game against the Browns, a pair of Cleveland players stopped the rookie running back.
The two men — both linebackers — told Lindsay the entire Cleveland linebacking corps voted for him to be selected to the Pro Bowl.
Their support helped, as Lindsay became the first undrafted offensive rookie to be chosen for the Pro Bowl. The NFL announced his selection on Tuesday evening.
A day removed from the news, Lindsay reflected on what it meant to receive his peers' support.
"To be able to be elected to the Pro Bowl by your teammates, the people you're playing against, the coaches — that means the world," Lindsay said Wednesday. "That means that they respect you. Like I said, nobody knew about me when I first got here, other than I was little. It means a lot."
When Head Coach Vance Joseph and Running Backs Coach Curtis Modkins called Lindsay to deliver the news, the rookie running back became a bit emotional. Just months ago, Lindsay was far more concerned with earning a spot on the team than making a Pro Bowl.
Nine-hundred-ninety-one rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns later, though, Lindsay is set to join James Conner and Melvin Gordon in Orlando, Florida in late January as the AFC's Pro Bowl running backs.
"I didn't even really think about [making it]," Lindsay said. "I'm an undrafted free agent. To be able to have 100 yards in a game was great. To get a touchdown. To be able to play in [Broncos Stadium at Mile High]. That's stuff right there that I dreamed about. The Pro Bowl is something that you think like five years down the line, three years down the line [could happen]. It's an honor to get it."
Some of Lindsay's teammates may have been closer to predicting Lindsay's unlikely success. Following an early practice during Organized Team Activities in May, cornerback Bradley Roby mentioned Lindsay's early performance to a teammate.
"You kind of feel the rookies out [and] see how they move," Roby said. "I always felt like his movement was good. I was like, 'Yo, this guy is fast, he's quick, he accelerates.' I was thinking, if he can run with the pads on, he's going to be nice. And he's done nothing but prove [people wrong]. He should've been drafted, obviously, but he wasn't. [He's] a gem."
Offensive tackle Garett Bolles, who helped block for Lindsay this season, is even more effusive in his praise for his teammate.
And in Bolles' eyes, Lindsay's attitude is the most impressive characteristic of a wholly impressive running back.
"He's a freak," Bolles said. "That's just what it is. He's a guy that everyone basically put on the back burner, [and] he just basically told everyone, 'Screw you. Watch me.' That's the type of guy that I want to block for. I want a guy that's just a nasty guy that gets things done."
Lindsay will now get the chance to add to his repertoire by learning from Gordon, Conner and NFC running backs Saquon Barkley, Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott.
He said Wednesday he has no choice but to listen to and learn from the best running backs in the league when he's in Orlando.
But after his productive rookie season, it's clear those players may be able to pick up a tip or two from the Colorado product.
None of the other players accomplished quite what he did.
"His first day with us, he was the sixth halfback on the depth chart," Joseph said. "Sixth. Obviously being a rookie free agent — didn't go to the combine, wasn't drafted — it just speaks to his work ethic and his talent. He came in here just trying to make our football team. That being said, he was our best gunner for the first month of the season. He was our L-5 on kickoff team. He was our return guy. So he wasn't even the lead back. Now, he's in the Pro Bowl. So that speaks to his work ethic, his heart and his talent.
"It's amazing what he's accomplished in such a short time."
For more on Lindsay's Pro Bowl season, click here.