Mariota's Mindset: Take Care of the Football


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota did plenty of things to earn the Heisman Trophy, and a mantel full of awards in college.

One thing he didn't do is turn the football over.

In his first week of training camp with the Titans, Mariota has continued to prove he's good at keep-away. In his first three practices, Mariota hasn't thrown an interception in nearly 60 attempts. That's including 7-on-7 and team drills.

"For all of us, the ball is the most important thing," Mariota said on Sunday. "If we can take care of it and secure it, hopefully we can have successful drives and score points."

Mariota, drafted second overall by the Titans, had another solid day in the team's first practice of training camp in pads.

Even with more defenders at his feet and around him, he stood up in the pocket and delivered the ball with accuracy.

A tipped ball that went off a defender's hand was the defense's best chance for a pick so far in camp. But the ball hit the ground. No harm done.

"He is just playing smart,'' tight end Delanie Walker said of Mariota. "Our focus in training camp was not to have turnovers, and he is doing that. He is being smart with the ball and not giving it up to the defense, and he is putting the ball in perfect places for guys to make catches."

At Oregon, Mariota wasn't known for giving the ball away.


• In 2014, he threw 42 touchdowns vs. only four interceptions.

• From 2012 to 2013, Mariota set the Pac-12 record with 353 consecutive passes without an interception. He became the only player in league history to put together multiple interception-free streaks of 200 attempts or more.

• His college TD to INT radio: 105 to 14.

• Mariota's college interception percentage was 1.20% (14 of 1,167 attempts). That would have broken Billy Volek's NCAA FBS record (1.28%, min. 600 attempts) if not for Bryce Petty finishing 2014 with a percentage of 1.18%.

• As a redshirt freshman, Mariota didn't throw his first interception until his 63rd attempt (third game).

• As a sophomore, did not throw his first interception until his 286th attempt (11th game).

• As a junior, did not throw his first interception until his 204th attempt (eighth game).

Titans quarterbacks combined to throw 20 interceptions in 2014 , with Zach Mettenberger throwing a team-high eight in seven games.

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt loves a quarterback who protects the football. He was impressed with Mariota's work from the pocket on Sunday.

"One of the questions that a lot of people had about him was his ability to stay in the pocket and throw, and there were a couple of great examples today where there was pressure at his feet and he made some good throws," Whisenhunt said. "Unfortunately he had two of them dropped.

"It's great to see him stay in there, it's great that he has that confidence. But really what stands out is that he sees things down the field and he's able to throw it accurately. That's a great quality."

Titans safety Michael Griffin said Mariota hasn't really given defenders much of a chance to grab an interception in the first three days of camp.

He noted a more dangerous offense might have something to do with that.

"He is doing a great job out there, making all the right throws,'' Griffin said of Mariota. "The offense is a little trickier now, giving him the option to run, screens, throwing the ball down the field. I have been impressed with his ability to throw the ball downfield. He is one of those quarterbacks who can maneuver in the pocket like Russell Wilson.

"He has made a lot of smart plays. He puts the ball in a place where it's tough for a defensive player to get their hands on the ball."

Training camp is only three days old, of course.

At some point, Mariota is going to make a mistake. As a rookie, he'll likely make a few.
But so far, so good.

"The guy is obviously extremely athletic. He knows what he is doing,'' tackle Taylor Lewan said of Mariota. "He has been making passes and I hear the crowd going crazy … and he is making plays. But it is practice, we're going to find out when games come. But I am not disappointed at all with the way he has played.

"Marcus was picked second overall, and he has been playing like the second overall pick."

Titans players take the field for training camp on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Donn Jones

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