Mularkey Discusses Ways Mariota Can Improve in 2016

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INDIANAPOLIS – Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is healthy enough to do a lot of running around right now.

The Titans plan to take full advantage of his good health in 2016.

"I don't mind if he takes off (running),'' Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Wednesday from the NFL Combine. "Last year against Jacksonville, he went (87) yards when he just took off. So I don't have a problem with that. I stated very early on that I don't have a problem (with him running).

"We are going to design runs for Marcus because I think you can protect yourself better as a runner than you can as a pocket passer. How much more? It will probably be more, because the injuries he sustained last year, we did not run him as much as we would have liked to."

Mariota broke rookie records for most touchdowns (19), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing attempts (370) in his first NFL season.

He also ran for 252 yards and two touchdowns on 34 attempts, including an 87-yard run for a touchdown against the Jaguars. He had three runs of 20-plus yards.

Mularkey said he talked to Mariota, who missed four games last season with injuries, on Tuesday. The Titans don't start the offseason program until April 18.

"He is in a good place right now, he is in Oregon,'' Mularkey said. "Obviously there is nothing he can do here with us (right now). I think it is good (for him) to get away, from the environment. We are together a lot. … Get away from us and recharge the batteries, get your body right. He said his knees feel great, his ankle.

TitansOnline.com looks back at the 2015 rookie season of Titans QB Marcus Mariota. (AP Photos)

"They weren't major injuries, they were nagging things the whole year I think he has taken care of. I know he is pretty diligent about rehab."

When Mariota returns, he'll work with a new offensive coordinator in Terry Robiskie. Last year's OC, Jason Michael, is now the team's quarterbacks coach.

Mularkey said the Titans want to help Mariota play faster in Year 2.

"He (did) a lot of good things in adverse situations last year, things that went on with the coaching change and the injuries. But one of the biggest things I thought he struggled with was even the play-calling in the huddle,'' Mularkey said of Mariota. "First of all, he did not have to do that at Oregon. So what we are trying to do, every day that we're in there as an offensive staff, we are trying to simplify the terminology to its simplest form, where there's not a lot of verbiage.

"And that will help him in the process of being able to spit it out, get to the line of scrimmage and have more time to see what defenses are trying to do to attack us."

Titans head coach Mike Mularkey and GM Jon Robinson make media rounds at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. (Photos: Gary Glenn, Dwight Spradlin)

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