Marcus Mariota Looks to Build Momentum vs. Panthers

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota said goodbye to one of his targets this week, and hello to a new bodyguard.

"I appreciated our time together,'' Mariota told receiver Dorial Green-Beckham via text the day he was traded from the Titans to the Eagles. "I wish him the best, and hopefully he does well (in Philadelphia). No hard feelings or anything like that. I just wish him the best."

As for 6-foot-8, 321-pound offensive lineman Dennis Kelly, the man the Titans got in return for Green-Beckham, Mariota said he's happy to have him on his side.

"He's a big dude," Mariota said of Kelly, who has played in 30 games, with 15 starts, since entering the NFL as a fifth round pick of the Eagles in the 2012 NFL Draft. Kelly has started nine games at right tackle and three games at right guard and three games at left guard during his career.

"I haven't really gotten to talk to him a whole lot, I just kind of introduced myself. But from the looks of it, he seems like a great guy and we're happy to have him."

Mariota and the Titans face the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers in the team's second preseason game on Saturday at Nissan Stadium.

Coming off a 27-10 win over the Chargers in the preseason opener – when Mariota went 5 for-5 for 45 yards – Mariota knows the challenge will be even tougher at the start. The Panthers ranked sixth in the NFL in defense in 2015.

"It will be tough,'' Mariota said. "Defensively, Carolina is probably one of the better teams in the league, so it is a good matchup for us to see where we're at. Our main goal is to go down and score points, and if we are able to do that it will help us out."

Against the Chargers, the Titans racked up 288 yards on the ground. DeMarco Murray ran for 93 yards, and Derrick Henry gained 74 yards. Both players made it into the end zone on touchdown runs.

Mariota played three series against the Chargers, and the Titans scored on a field goal and touchdown. Mariota is hoping to keep the momentum going against the Panthers.

"Just continuing to build a rhythm with the team,'' Mariota said. "I think offensively, if we can go down and finish drives, score points. I think we were 2 for 3 as a unit in the first quarter or so, so if we can continue to have that much success hopefully that will carry on into the season."

Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota signed autographs and took photos with fans after the team's training camp practice, Monday. (Photos: Susanna Nickell)

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