Marcus Mariota "upbeat" as he Heads Back to Nashville

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — His surgery behind him, Marcus Mariota is now on the road to recovery.

Coach Mike Mularkey said the Titans quarterback is scheduled to return to Nashville late Thursday after having surgery on his fractured right fibula Wednesday night in Charlotte, N.C.

"He's doing good,'' Mularkey said after practice on Thursday. "We've texted back and forth a number of times. (He's) upbeat, talking about, 'Have a good practice today. Thinking about you guys. Wish I was there.' Everybody is thinking about him and wishing him luck. He'll head back here tonight."

Mariota suffered the injury in Saturday's loss to the Jaguars. On Tuesday he traveled to Charlotte, where Dr. Robert Anderson performed the procedure a day later, and inserted a plate where the fracture occurred.

Mularkey said earlier in the week Mariota could need roughly 4-5 months of recovery time.

On Thursday, Mularkey said he's not sure how long Mariota will be in a cast, or on crutches -- or on a scooter.

He was asked if Mariota might be at Sunday's game at Nissan Stadium, where the Titans will face the Texans.

"We haven't gotten that far, exactly where he's going to be on Sunday,'' Mularkey said. "He'll be with us in spirit, I know that for a fact."

Mularkey was certain of one thing: Mariota's fight.

"He's as tough of a quarterback as I've been around,'' Mularkey said. "I typically don't bet unless I know I am going to win, (but) I would bet he would come back with a vengeance to rehab, to come back, and be as strong as ever and be ready go. That's my bet."

Teammates on Thursday also said they expect Mariota to come back better than ever following a season when Mariota threw for 3,426 yards with 26 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Mariota's 95.6 passer rating in 2016 ranks behind Warren Moon's 96.8 in 1990 and Steve McNair's 100.4 in 2003. Since the beginning of Week 5, Mariota's 105.0 rating ranked fourth best in the NFL behind only Matt Ryan (111.3), Tom Brady (110.7) and Dak Prescott (108.6).

"He is a guy who works extremely hard, so I know he'll make a full recovery,'' running back DeMarco Murray said of Mariota. "I know he had a great surgeon do his surgery. I know Marcus is a competitor. I think he is a great athlete, and he is the leader of this team. I think he'll bounce back and he'll be fine."

Cornerback Jason McCourty said he hasn't talked to Mariota since the surgery, but he spent time with him at Saint Thomas Sports Park before he left earlier in the week.

How Mariota has handled himself since the injury says a lot about him, McCourty said.

"It hurts to see him hurt, just because of the kind of guy he is, how humble he is,'' McCourty said. "I hate it for him because I know something like this changes the whole offseason for him. Instead of him relaxing and getting strong, he's going to be rehabbing.

"When I saw him he was in high spirits even as he was changing out his cast. He was with his brother, and instead of moping around he was smiling and asking me how I was doing. That's just the kind of guy he is. I wouldn't expect anything different."

TitansOnline.com looks back at Marcus Mariota's second NFL season in 2016. (AP Photos)

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