Marcus Mariota will definitely make his return as the Tennessee Titans quarterback Saturday night against the New York Jets.
How much he will play, however, is yet to be determined, according to Titans head coach Mike Mularkey.
“Thursday night will be the personnel meeting,” Mularkey said, after answering “yes” to whether or not his star quarterback would play in the preseason opener.
Mariota has not been hit since suffering the injury that ended his season on Christmas Eve with a broken right fibula that required surgery and months of rehab. So, even a couple of series against the Jets defense would be another step for the quarterback in his return from the injury.
“I think it’s important for him to get in a real game, against a real rush where they can actually (hit him),” Mularkey said. “They can get close to him here, but they are instructed to stay away from him at all costs. It’ll be good to hopefully not have anybody around him – that’s the ultimate goal – but it’ll be good for him to get his feet wet.”
The other reason for putting Mariota back on the field, Mularkey joked, was that “I don’t want to see what he would do if I told him he couldn’t play.”
Mariota has shown adverse no effects from the surgery, and in Monday night’s practice, even ran with the football on the read option for the one of the first times in camp.
“We’ve had it in. We’ve had it in since day one,” Mularkey said of the read option. “It’s based on the read whether he’s going to run it or not. We have more than one option on some of those plays. It just so happened that tonight the option for him to run came up.”
Teammates have been amazed at Mariota’s recovery, but now they want to do their part to make sure he stays healthy and doesn’t have to do too much running.
“When we watch the film, he looks like his old self,” tight end Delanie Walker said. “The speed is there, but at the end of the day, I don’t want him running. We want to keep him healthy this whole year. We cringe when he runs, but he looks good. And as long as he looks good doing it, we should be good with that.”
Murray does individual
DeMarco Murray was back on the practice field for the first time in nearly a week, albeit in a very limited capacity, in his return from a hamstring injury. Murray did some individual work on the side and later caught a few passes from the quarterbacks in a walk-through.
“I’m taking it slowly. I’m feeling better than I was a week ago. With a hamstring you’ve got to be careful, you don’t want to have any setbacks and have it linger. It’s all about being smart,” Murray said.
Murray sustained the injury last Wednesday on a day off when he came in to do some extra work. But he is getting closer to being able to return, said Mularkey.
“He’s close. We’re easing him back into it. He did individual. He’s day-to-day. We’ll see how he feels after what he did today, and hopefully we’ll get him out here tomorrow,” Mularkey said.
Defensive end Karl Klug rolled his left ankle Saturday night and was held out of Monday’s practice. The veteran defensive lineman is coming back from Achilles surgery on that same leg last December, but the rolled ankle is unrelated.
Klug is day-to-day with the injury.
Also, linebacker Erik Walden is day-to-day after getting Monday off with a minor groin injury. Mularkey said it is possible that Walden could be back as early as Tuesday.
Receivers Corey Davis (hamstring) and Tajae Sharpe (PUP list, foot) remain out.