NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Cam Newton's nickname is "Superman", and he plays it up regularly with his touchdown celebration. This weekend, the Panthers quarterback flies into town to take on the Tennessee Titans.
With just six NFL starts under his belt, Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota doesn't have a nickname that's stuck.
But that's OK with him. He doesn't want one, he said.
"I just like being called Marcus,'' Mariota said after Wednesday's practice. "That's who I am, and that's the name by parents gave me, and that's kind of what I go by."
Mariota on Wednesday was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in Sunday's 34-28 overtime win against the Saints.
He's just the second rookie quarterback to be named player of the week twice since the awards were instituted in 1984. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III won the weekly award twice in the NFC in 2012. He was ultimately named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year that season.
"It is an honor,'' Mariota said. "I can't thank my teammates enough. The offensive line did a great job on Sunday and everybody deserves that recognition, and we're thankful for it."
In his first game back in the lineup after missing two games with a knee injury, Mariota completed 28-of-39 passes for 371 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions, with a passer rating of 135.7 against the Saints.
Mariota said "guys are a little more excited" this week after the win, but he also said players regularly prepare well, win or lose. Health-wise, Mariota said the knee feels noticeably better this week.
Mariota knows the Titans will have a big challenge this Sunday against the Panthers.
"Their front seven is very, very good,'' Mariota said. "Guys really fly around, and their back end is just as talented. They have really carried their team and their defense is really disciplined with what they do. We have a hard week in front of us for sure."
As for Newton, Mariota he doesn't know him well, but said he respects him as a player.
The Panthers are 8-0 on the season, and Newton has thrown for 1,820 yards and 14 touchdowns so far. Last week against the Packers, Newton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.
"Physically, he is very dominant,'' Mariota said of Newton. "He has really been able to win from the pocket and outside as well. He is tough to bring down. He is playing at a high level right now."