Six Hot Topics from Coach Mike Mularkey at NFL Combine


INDIANAPOLIS – Titans head coach Mike Mularkey had two different sessions with reporters here on Wednesday at the NFL Combine.

Here's a look at six hot topics:



Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota ran for 349 yards and two touchdowns on 60 carries last season. He suffered a fractured fibula on December 24 when he was tackled just outside the pocket in a game at Jacksonville.

Mularkey was asked whether Mariota might be used less as a runner after his injury.

"I don't think so," Mularkey said. "He's supposed to have a full recovery from it and that hasn't been in any discussion, as far as running him less, because I think the way we run Marcus is very smart. They are designed to have everybody blocked. Unless somebody doesn't get their block, he's not going to be exposed to unnecessary hits. Again, to lose that threat of his ability to run the ball is a big loss to our offense. Again, we'll see how he comes out of it, but I expect a full recovery."



Titans tight end Delanie Walker is coming off another Pro Bowl season, but he's 32. Tight end Anthony Fasano, who is also 32, has an expiring contract. The Titans also have Phillip Supernaw and Jace Amaro, both in their mid-20s, under contract.

Mularkey was asked about the importance of getting younger at the tight end position this offseason. This year's draft is loaded with some pretty talented tight ends.

"If you go in with that thought process, just trying to get younger, then you're maybe reaching,'' Mularkey said. "Our tight end position has been very productive. It was again last year. We're happy with our current roster, the way it is with our guys. We're looking at all positions. You know that. And that's just another one we're looking at. If it happens that way, it happens that way."



A year ago, the Titans selected Jack Conklin in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Conklin was an All-Pro in 2016.

So what's next for Conklin?

"He's going to come back in much more confident and much more understanding of what's expected of him, the demands of the offseason, the demands of training camp,'' Mularkey said. "That's just added pressure to a rookie. Yeah, he exceeded, I think. We knew he was a good football player. We knew that when we drafted him. But it was fun to watch him develop. He was kind of put in that situation, with the injury to Byron Bell, to be in there earlier than we had anticipated, but he handled it like he'd been doing it for a while."



Veteran Jason McCourty has played cornerback in his eight seasons with the Titans.

But one question surrounding him never seems to go away: Might he switch to safety, like his brother Devin did with the Patriots?

"He is a good player,'' Mularkey said of Jason McCourty. "It's not without question that he could play safety. He is a good football player. … But we haven't (discussed moving him)."


The Titans have 14 players scheduled to become free agents on March 9.

So would the team like to re-sign any of them?

"We are talking to some of them,'' Mularkey said. "I know Jon (Robinson) is talking to some of them. We are in discussions with a good portion of them."

Proof Mularkey wasn't fibbing: the Titans agreed to terms on a contract extension with quarterback Matt Cassel on Thursday morning.



This time last year, Mularkey was just getting familiar with the NFL Draft prospects after being selected as the team's permanent head coach a month earlier.

At this year's combine, he's more familiar with the players, and Robinson.

It should help in the process.

"I think we work well together.'' Mularkey said of Robinson. "We're on the same page. I think we know now, in the interview process, we've done a few interviews, I know how we play off of each other, how we want to do things with some of the questions. I think probably the biggest difference this year – and Jon has a lot to do with why – we're farther ahead in regards to knowing the players, watching them on tape before we watch them here at the Combine. This is the first time I've watched 20-some players to this point, which I have not done before. So we're ahead of schedule with that."

Titans GM Jon Robinson, head coach Mike Mularkey make their media rounds at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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