Marcus Mariota is fully cleared to participate in Tennessee Titans training camp but that doesn’t mean that the reins will be completely loosened in today’s first practice.
Coach Mike Mularkey said Friday as players reported to St. Thomas Sports Park and went through their conditioning test that the Titans would take it easy with the quarterback for the first few days of camp, though he would not be as limited as he was during off-season work.
“He is cleared to go. We’re not going to just send him out there and have at it,” Mularkey said. “He’s still going to have some limited reps. Not as much as he had obviously in the off-season. But it’s not going to be like it’s going to be like he’s been healthy the whole time. We’re going to watch him.”
Mariota had surgery to repair a broken right fibula suffered last Christmas Eve against Jacksonville and had to have a plate inserted into his leg to help the healing process.
Mularkey was asked why he chose not to have Mariota go into camp at full speed in drills.
“Because we have time. I’m not talking about an extensive hold back. There’s going to be certain things I’m going to ease him into. We’ve got time,” Mularkey said.
Elsewhere, several other Titans are coming off injuries as well, but much of the other focus was on first-round pick Corey Davis, who still has yet to sign his rookie contract as the Titans and his agents haggle over offset language. The two sides are talking, and Mularkey would not allow himself to go down the path of a Davis holdout just yet.
“I’m not going to address it until he misses the first day or two of camp. Hopefully, he doesn’t. I’ll adress it if it gets into a period where he’s missing time. But that’s not the case right now,” Mularkey said.
Asked about how important this time is for the No. 5 overall pick, the Titans coach conceded, “I’d be mistaken not to say every rep is important. Every single rep is important.”
Beyond Mariota on the injury front, Mularkey said that newly signed receiver Eric Decker, who missed much of last season with the Jets due to shoulder and hip injuries.
“He is full go. He may have a little bit more of a utility guy that can play multiple positions,” Mularkey said. “We’re going to start him out in the slot and as the Z receiver with Rishard (Matthews), but he’ll play all over the play. The value of having him in that room with some young guys … is invaluable to me.”
Decker is excited to be joining the Titans and seems to fit the mold the team looks for in its players.
“I know some guys well in the locker room and had some good conversations and just felt the energy and the attitude and the direction this team was going,” Decker said, “and I wanted to be part of that. I think we’ve got a lot of talent and we’ve just got to figure out a way to put it on the field at the right time and capitalize.”
Decker was teammates with Sylvester Williams and Wesley Woodyard in Denver and with Jace Amaro in New York.
As for other injuries with the Titans, receiver Tajae Sharpe, coming off foot surgery from OTA work, could begin camp on the physically unable to perform list, as Mularkey indicated he did not know when Sharpe would be able to practice.
However, it sounds as if defensive lineman Karl Klug may be avoiding the PUP list, as he did well in his conditioning run and is close to returning.
“He could probably go full speed too, but like Marcus, we’re going to limit him in his reps. He has made a tremendous effort to come back, and he could go if I let him. I know he wants to,” Mularkey said of Klug.
Linebacker Kevin Dodd, who has missed plenty of time with a twice-repaired right foot injury, is also fully cleared to participate in camp practices after missing all of the team’s OTA and mini-camp work.
Today’s first practice begins at 2:40 p.m.