He was limited to mainly 7-on-7 work and individual drills, but as the Tennessee Titans opened organized team activities Tuesday, quarterback Marcus Mariota was back with his teammates and taking part in practice.
Mariota, who had surgery in late December to have a plate and screws inserted into his broken right fibula, has been going through rehab throughout the off-season and was able to do some limited work.
“It felt great. Four months ago, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to participate in OTAs, and being able to do some of the drills and go through practice, it’s a lot in my progress and in my recovery. I was just very happy and very grateful to be out there,” Mariota said Tuesday.
The Titans made sure to be careful with Mariota, but also set up the practice to get him as much work as possible without risking putting him in harm’s way.
“I’ll take it day by day with Marcus. We monitored him with the scripts. Basically he did everything in walk-through and individual and then we extended our 7-on-7 period to give him more reps. He took all the reps in the 7-on-7 period,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said
Mariota handled all 15 snaps in the 7-on-7 period.
“That’s the little I’m going to have in terms of my opportunity to see defenses and continue to grow mentally. As much as I can get out of the 7-on-7 and take mental reps in team (drills), I’m going to do my best to do that and continue to prepare for the season,” Mariota said.
When the Titans were in team drills, he stationed himself behind the offense about five yards from the deepest player in the backfield to observe the proceedings.
“It was something at Oregon we did. It just helps you mentally. It’s like you’re still in the play. You can still see everything, especially the defense,” he said. “For me, at this point in time, I’ve got to get as much out of the mental reps as I can, and I’m going to do my best to play the game from there and learn and continue to get better every day.”
Mariota indicated that he really does not even think about his surgically repaired right leg while he is on the field – even as teammate Brian Orakpo yelled, “Don’t touch him! Don’t touch him!” in a non-contact drill when Mariota began to jog across the line of scrimmage.
“During the drills, I do my best to not even think about it. As I’ve gone through my entire process, I’ve gone about doing things normal and just getting back to where I feel like myself again,” Mariota said. “As I’m out there, I’m not even thinking about it. When I’m in here doing rehab, when I’m doing specific things to make my body ready, that’s when I’m focusing on it.”
Mariota was simply grateful to be back and working on football again.
“It’s nice to be out there. It’s nice to do football things. After awhile, you kind of do the same old stuff in rehab things. It was nice to be out there with the guys and get after it a little bit,” he said.
While the Titans are trying to maximize Mariota’s work with his receivers in OTAs by doing additional 7-on-7 work, they won’t overdo anything or push the matter during the off-season.
“We’ve got to take the smart approach and make sure we don’t have any setbacks,” Mariota said.
That was something Mularkey agreed with, saying, “ It looks like he can do more, but again, it’s May. We’ve got time.”