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Marcus Mariota: Titans Will Benefit from Work with Panthers



NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** Marcus Mariota looked across the line of scrimmage on Wednesday and he didn't see Jurrell Casey, Brian Orakpo or Kevin Byard.

Instead, the Titans quarterback saw Panthers linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, and others in panther blue.

Nothing against his teammates, but Mariota said it was a nice change.

"I think it's huge,'' Mariota said. "When you get into camp, you see the same faces over and over again. To be able to get a different look, get a little bit of a taste of a different defense, it is good for us, and I thought we reacted well.

"I think they have a great defense. They made a couple of good plays against us, caused a couple of turnovers. … I thought the Panthers gave us a lot of good looks, made some plays against us, and it's stuff we can learn from and that's what is good about this."

The Titans made some plays on offense on Wednesday during the first day of joint practices between the two teams at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Running back DeMarco Murray busted off a nice run on the first play of a team run period, and receiver Eric Decker outmuscled a defender to haul in a one-handed catch early in one-on-one drills.

Later, receivers Rishard Matthews and Taywan Taylor made some nice catches on balls thrown by Mariota.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing. The Panthers picked off Mariota twice during the session, both on deflected passes. The Titans had some drops, and running back Akeem Judd lost a fumble near the goal-line.

Kuechly offered praise for Mariota after practice.

"He's smart, and he understands the game," Kuechly said of Mariota. "He understands what he needs to do to be successful and put his team in a position to be successful. And it's fun to see these young guys come up and grow and understand defenses. I think he is going to do a great job this year."

Coming off the preseason opener, Mariota is expected to do more in this Saturday's game against the Panthers at Nissan Stadium, after another practice session on Thursday against Carolina.

Mariota ended up playing in two possessions in the team's preseason opener against the Jets, his first game back after suffered a fractured fibula in Week 16 last season. He completed 2-of-3 passes for 15 yards and also ran once for a six-yard gain in the team's 7-3 loss, and was sacked once for a seven-yard loss.

Overall it was a pretty dismal performance for Tennessee's offense, which allowed eight sacks and couldn't reach the end zone.

Mariota said it was great to be out there running around again on Saturday. He wants things to look cleaner the second time out, this week at Nissan Stadium.

"It is to be determined (how much I play Saturday), but I am excited to get back out there,'' Mariota said. "You want to go out there and improve game in and game out, so I am looking forward to going out there and doing better than last week. … Last week we didn't do our jobs and we definitely want to fix that this week."

The Titans practice against the Carolina Panthers on Day 19 of the team's training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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