Marcus Mariota Enjoys Solid Start to Training Camp

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- An estimated crowd of 1,300 came out to watch the Titans on the first day of training camp, and many of them kept their eyes locked on the team's prized draft pick, quarterback Marcus Mariota.

If Mariota felt any pressure, he sure didn't show it.

"But you know what?,'' tight end Delanie Walker said. "I don't think Marcus cares about the crowd and the media watching him. He doesn't worry about what anyone thinks about him. He just goes out and takes care of his business, and plays. And that's what you want to see from a young guy."

Mariota, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, worked during the offseason with more privacy. Reporters watched during offseason workouts and a three-day minicamp, but those practices were closed to the public.

When the team opened its doors to fans at Saint Thomas Sports Park Friday, they came out decked in Mariota jerseys, and holding signs. NFL Network was present, along with a reporter from the University of Oregon, where Mariota became a Heisman Trophy winner, and put himself in position to be the second overall pick of the draft by the Titans.

So what did fans find out about Mariota on Day One?

They saw the same guy teammates, coaches and reporters have seen since May.

Mariota completed 13-of-18 passes on the day in team and 7-on-7 drills combined. He threw a deep ball for a touchdown to receiver Justin Hunter earlier in practice, and also connected with receiver Dorial Green-Beckham on a ball downfield. He threw a tight spiral across the middle to Kendall Wright, and connected with receiver Hakeem Nicks on a nice ball later in practice.

While he was off target in a handful of throws, Mariota didn't come close to throw an interceptions. He didn't force the ball into a bad spot.

"I thought he handled himself well,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "He doesn't seem to get fazed and went through it, didn't make a lot of mistakes, so it was good.

"How calm he is (impressed me). There are a few things here and there you can see rattles him a little bit, but for a young guy he's done really well. He gets the ball out quick, he is accurate, and he is poised. The biggest thing is getting used to the terminology and the plays and that's just a process and he's doing well with that."

Mariota wasn't scheduled to speak with reporters on Friday after addressing media on Thursday. Then, Mariota said he felt prepared for the start of camp.

On the field, he said plenty in the huddle.

"He is definitely not quiet when he is on the field,'' Wright said. "If you go over there and interview him, he'll probably give you a one or two word answer. But out there it is a different story, it is a different market. It is his home out there and that's how he treats it."

Added Walker: "He is a different person in the huddle. He is loud, he gets the plays out, and he is ready to go. On the side he is quiet, but he is loud in the huddle."

Cornerback Jason McCourty thought Mariota looked too good for his liking.

"I thought he threw the ball well,'' McCourty said. "I don't think we had any interceptions today as a defense, which isn't a good sign for us but a good sign for those guys. They made some plays downfield."

Mariota has plenty to do to get ready for the season opener, of course.

The team plans to increase his workload in practices, and he'll be tested in games.

When the pads come on, the Titans and Mariota know things will be dramatically different.

But Mariota got off to a nice start on day one. It was the start of what the Titans hope will be a long and successful career.

"I think everything Marcus has done stands out to me, from OTAs until now,'' Wright said. "He has grown a lot during that time, and he is getting better with his decision making and being really accurate throwing the ball."

Titans players take the field for training camp on Friday, July 31, 2015 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Donn Jones Photography.com)

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