Marcus Mariota Set to Face Texans for First Time

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has never faced the Houston Texans.

A year ago, Zach Mettenberger filled in for an injured Mariota both games.

Still, Mariota was paying attention.

"Just being a part of the game planning week in and week out with those guys, just being at practice when it was that week of preparation,'' Mariota said on Wednesday, "just gave me kind of a sense of what (the Texans) do. I look forward to just being out there and playing against them.

"It's an opportunity for us to go out there and play a division opponent, hopefully continue to build some momentum for this season."

The Titans face the Texans on Sunday in Houston.

The Texans, of course, will be without defensive lineman J.J. Watt, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Watt went on Injured Reserve on Wednesday because of a back injury.

The Texans are ranked No.5 in the league in defense, and across the board the Titans said on Wednesday the Texans are a force without him.

Mariota said the Titans must do a better job helping – and not hurting -- themselves. Mariota's including himself following a week when he turned the ball over three times – two interceptions and a fumble – against the Raiders. Mariota has thrown four interceptions while fumbling three times this season.

"Turnovers,'' Mariota responded when asked what's holding the offense back. "And that's on me and things that I can improve on. That's going to hurt our team no matter what happens or where it's going to be at. If I do a better job of taking care of the football, our team is in a better position.

"I learn best from experience. With what happened, even through these first few games, those are things that I can kind of put in the memory bank and just remind myself to be smart in certain situations, be smart with the football and just make the best decision for the team."

Mariota and the Titans are expected to get a boost on offense with the return of receiver Kendall Wright, who missed the first three games with a hamstring injury.

Coach Mike Mularkey said he's optimistic about tight end Delanie Walker's chances of returning as well.

"I think to have those guys in the lineup will help us in terms of just having more guys, more options,'' Mariota said. "Those guys are great players. They're good football players when the ball's in their hands. Any chance and opportunity we can get them on the field and allow them to make plays will really help us out."

Titans players take the field for Wednesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn, Amber Harding)

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