Marcus Mariota, Titans Upbeat About Offseason Progress

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —** Marcus Mariota is sporting a new haircut.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey also thinks his quarterback is a cut above where he was last year at the end of the team's offseason program.

"I have been very pleased,'' Mularkey said of Mariota. "I think he is obviously ahead of where he was this time last year, because of the year of experience but also because of some of the things we're doing to help him out."

The Titans wrapped up their second day of a three-day minicamp on Wednesday at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Earlier, the team went through 10 days of organized team activities. On Thursday, players will go their separate ways before returning for the start of training camp at the end of July.

Mariota considers the offseason a success – so far.

"This entire offseason my goal was to pick up a few pounds, take care of the football, learn more about the complexities of the defenses we're going to face," Mariota said on Wednesday. "Overall I thought I've done a pretty good job of that, whether it's going against coach (Dick) LeBeau every day and learning from that standpoint or in the weight room.

"Overall, I thought it's gone well, but it's not over yet. We still have a month-and-a-half to continue to work until the season starts and I'll continue to try and find a way to get better."

Mariota said he plans to put a better emphasis on protecting the football in 2016. It's an area where he struggled during a rookie season when he set franchise records for most touchdowns (19), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing attempts (370) in his first NFL season despite missing four games with knee injuries.

He's also worked at improving his numbers throwing the deep ball, although Mularkey said his receivers need to do a better of helping him out there by battling for footballs in flight.

Mariota said his plans to spend time back home in Hawaii and in Oregon during the break, before returning to Nashville early to work with some of the team's offensive players.

"It's very important," Mariota said of the break before camp. "It's an opportunity for a lot of guys to kind of get away before things really kind of buckle down. It's also an opportunity to work on some things that you need to before camp starts. Specifically, learning the offense, just getting your body right. I think these next six weeks or so are really important for guys, and we'll see what happens.

"… Guys have to realize that they're on their own. They have to hold themselves accountable. Coach (Mike) Mularkey definitely talked about that a little bit. These next six weeks, there's nobody watching you. You have an opportunity, by yourself, to get better and how you use your time is really up to you. You'll tell when guys come out here for camp who's been working and who hasn't."

Mularkey said he's confident Mariota will show up ready to go at the end of July.

"I don't need him to do anything, he'll be doing enough," Mularkey said. "He doesn't need me to tell him one thing. I'm not worried about Marcus. There are some others I may talk to about it, but he's not one of them."

Titans veterans and rookies take the field for Day 2 of minicamp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones, Gary Glenn)

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