TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - Sept. 7, 2016
(on what made practice good today)
It's opening week Wednesday, game plan is in, pads are popping—just a lot of good energy.
(on where Marcus Mariota's development is now compared to this time last year)*
Well, I would hope to think he's light years ahead of where he was at this time (last year). I mean with all the game experience he had last year, all the things that he's had to go through since he's been here, I would think he'd be—and again, we've done some things to hopefully even ease him into some things that should help him advance pretty good. So I think he should be way ahead of this time last year.
(on if Marcus Mariota has a better understanding of the playbook than he did a year ago)
Yeah, protections, IDing, communication, huddle communication, all that. Yeah, I think it's all better.
(on if Marcus Mariota is vocal enough)
He's vocal. Yeah, he's vocal. You're not going to here him, he's not going to be a screamer, but in the huddle, he gets his point across or he'll pull a guy aside on the sideline or out here on the side talking through it. It's not something you're going to hear verbally across the field, but he's very aware of what guys should be doing. He just handles the offense like we want him to with a lot of command.
(on if adding so many new players gives Marcus Mariota a sense of seniority)
I think it gives him a little bit of a comfort level. A lot of those guys are veterans that have been in some big games and played a lot of games. I think that's got to make him feel good that we've brought in some guys—you know, not a Tajae (Sharpe), but an Andre (Johnson) and Rishard (Matthews) and DeMarco (Murray) and Ben Jones. Those guys can't do anything but help give him some confidence that we're going to be alright.
(on the key to slowing down Adrian Peterson and has the defense benefitted by facing DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in practice)*
I think it's helped. You know, I showed video this morning of Minnesota. They do a lot of the same run scheme, same formations, what they've been practicing against. It's a lot easier said than done stopping them. I know his age—that's another thing you show on tape—that he hasn't slowed down. His vision, his burst—if he gets past the second level, you better tackle him. I mean you better use your arms, better wrap up, because he doesn't look like he's aged the way he's still running as of last year. Now, he hasn't played in the preseason, but he hasn't played in prior preseasons, either, and he's led the league in rushing. We opened up with them when I was in Jacksonville, and he was fine then, too, coming off an injury. He'll be ready to go this game. He's got lots of energy.
(on what he has come to expect when facing a Mike Zimmer defense)
They're not going to be out of place. They're going to be very disciplined. There's not a lot of moving parts over there. It's a veteran group. They understand the defense. They've been in it now. This is their third year, same guys, basically, and a lot of depth. You just don't see a lot of communication errors. They're where they're supposed to be. They're good players playing in a very sound defense.
(on the advantage of having a sound quarterback situation when the Vikings have uncertainty at that position)
Well, I'm not going to worry about—again, I've told them that. With the injury and with the trade and all that, it's never been about what's going on up there. It's all about what we're doing here. I'm very confident in what we're doing. I'm very confident, obviously, in Marcus (Mariota). Our team is. What happens elsewhere is irrelevant to what we're doing on this end of things.
(on if there is something unique about the season opener)
You know, it is. There is nothing like opening day in the National Football League. I know when you're not in the league, which I wasn't in 2013, that's the day you probably miss the game more than any day. It's the fans, it's the excitement, it's the flyover, it's everything that goes into it. There's nothing like it. I can't compare it to other sports, but I'd have to find it to be hard to be like this game.
(on how he prepares the rookies for the intensity of their first regular season game)
Oh, it will be an eye-opener for a little bit, but it's just like their first preseason game. They take a couple hits, they block a couple people, they get tackled or they tackle, they'll be alright. I just think they've got to understand it's 60 minutes. They haven't played a full game, some of these guys. With the way we've practiced, I think we're in shape to do it. That's why we practice the way we do, so hopefully Sundays are a lot easier. So I think they should be in pretty good shape. It's just they've got to get over the early jitters and they'll be good.
(on if they prepare for the Vikings as an offense due to the uncertainty at quarterback)
Yeah, I think you've got to do that. You're not talking about two totally different dimensional quarterbacks. It's not like one is an extremely mobile guy and another guy is a pocket (passer). They're not far off of each other. They're more comfortable in the pocket. They have the ability to get out with schemed plays out of the pocket, which they will do, to complement their run game. There's not a lot of difference that you'd have to go in and have separate periods to practice against different quarterbacks—not from what we see.
(on if he has been able to identify why the Titans have performed well in Week One in recent years)
No, I really haven't gone back over the openers the last couple years. For some reason, we've played well. We've played well on the road. I think we were in Kansas City and Tampa last year. So you'd like everything to carry out, but it's a totally separate year. It's all about the now right now.
(on if he still expects Sam Bradford to start)
I would anticipate it, if he's up to speed. Again, I think he's a capable quarterback and can go in there. I think that's feasible for it to happen.
(on if he feels like the team's confidence level is in a good place)
I feel good about our team. I think our team feels good about it. We've had a really good offseason. We feel like we had a good preseason. Again, it's preseason, but we did a lot of good things here and in games. I just think they've got a good feel about the way we're approaching everything.
(on if he plans to have officials at practice all season or if there is a cut-off point)
No, that will be all year. Yes, we'll do that. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday they'll be out here. As long as we're going full-speed, they'll be out here.
(on if he is comfortable with Marc Mariani as the returner after a few days of practice)
Yeah, and again, I have some experience with Marc (Mariani), so I already kind of knew enough about him. Yeah, I'm very comfortable with where we're at with our return game.
(on if Marc Mariani will do both kick and punt return)
He's going to do both.
(on Kendall Wright's progression)
Kendall (Wright)—you think he's got a chance and then there's a setback. I really have no time frame on Kendall. I think that's going to be up to Kendall. I know he's working in here extremely hard. He wants to play. I mean, I know he does. It's got to be killing him, especially opening day, but for some reason, that thing's not coming around as it should.
(on if Kendall Wright will play on Sunday)
He will not play in the opener, no.
(on if having Kona Ice at practice is becoming a tradition)
Well, I think we've won a few games with it out here. So I'm a little superstitious. It was hot again today, so it's a good little treat for those guys.
Titans players take the field for Wednesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)