NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A quarter into the season, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is on pace to finish with the most rushing attempts, and rushing yards, of his career.
This despite missing an entire game, and dealing with an injury.
Mariota has 20 rushing attempts this season, and 112 rushing yards. He scored on a two-yard touchdown run in Sunday's win against the Eagles.
Projected over a 16-game season, Mariota is scheduled to finish the season with 80 rushing attempts for 448 rushing yards. Mariota's season-high for rushing yards in a season came in 2016, when he ran for 349 yards. Mariota finished with 60 rushing attempts each in 2016 and 2017.
Mariota's projected rushing totals are much higher when you take into consideration he's played just one complete game. Mariota didn't finish the opener at Miami because of an injury, and he came off the bench to replace Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville.
On Wednesday, Mariota said he takes off and runs when it feels natural. Some of his runs, of course, have been on designed runs.
"I just play within myself," Mariota said. "I think when you start to think about it, it becomes unnatural and you tend to not play like yourself. I just play instinctively. I've just kind of trusted what I've done my entire career. Being able to move around in the pocket, or attack and get some yards down the field, it's also being smart and getting down. But, those things to me are very instinctive."
Mariota was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 4 after completing 30-of-43 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles, when he also ran for 46 more yards, including the two-yard touchdown run. Mariota ran for 51 yards the previous week against the Jaguars.
Mariota completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to receiver Corey Davis to win Sunday's game. Davis had a breakout game against the Eagles, but receivers Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor made big plays as well.
Mariota said he's seen growing confidence from the group.
The Titans travel to Buffalo to face the Bills on Sunday.
"One big play after another," Mariota said. "I think if they continue to do that – and really, honestly, that's the expectation. That's the standard that we have for those guys. Even though it is a young group, those guys, I think, can make those plays on a consistent basis. If we can continue to harp on them, continue to coach them up, fine tune those little details, hopefully that will be something that we see every week."
The Tennessee Titans take the field for practice on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)