As the Tennessee Titans off-season nears a close, quarterback Marcus Mariota finds himself one year older, one year wiser and one year more prepared to be the team’s leader.
Mariota said he much more comfortable now in his role as the Titans quarterback than a year ago when he was still learning what NFL life was all about and was still months from taking his first professional snap.
“I think this entire situation will be a lot more comfortable – going through it already for a year, seeing a lot of similar faces, understanding what’s expected from me,” Mariota said. “From that standpoint, I feel comfortable and that’s going to allow me to feel a lot more comfortable coming into camp. I’m just ready to roll.”
Before he reports to training camp in late July, Mariota plans to gather his receivers together a few days before for a refresher course in the offense that has been installed this off-season.
He also said he is progressing in his off-season goals, which include not only trying to master the Titans offense, but going against his own defense in practice.
“This entire off-season my goals have been to pick up a few pounds, take care of the football, learning more about the complexities of the defenses we’re about to face,” Mariota said. “Overall, I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of that, whether it’s been going against Coach (Dick) LeBeau every single day and learning from that standpoint. Overall, I thought it’s gone well, but it’s not over yet. We’ve got another month and a half to continue to work till the season starts, and trying to get better.”
Titans coach Mike Mularkey is pleased with his quarterback’s work.
“I’ve been very pleased. I think he’s obviously ahead of where he was last year because of his experience, but also because of some of the things we’re doing to help him out. So I’ve been very pleased,” Mularkey said.
Teammates are also impressed with how Mariota’s leadership skills are continuing to grow during this time.
“Overall, I think he has more confidence and he’s not a rookie anymore. I think everyone looks at him as he’s our guy, our quarterback and our leader. Just the way everyone looks at him (is different),” tight end Craig Stevens said. “I think you’re always kind of building it. Marcus came right in and did a great job and always had that leadership capability. He always did the right thing, and it was easy to look at him as a leader.”
Mariota will take time off during the break, but Mularkey said he knows his quarterback will put in the necessary time to be prepared for camp.
“I don’t need him to do anything. He doesn’t need me to tell him one thing. I’m not worried about Marcus. There are some others I may need to talk to, but he’s not one of them,” Mularkey said.