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Six Hot Topics From Titans Coach Mike Mularkey


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans coach Mike Mularkey just chatted with reporters on Sunday on a conference call, one day after the team's 22-21 win over the Chiefs in the AFC Wild Card round.

On Saturday, the Titans will travel to face the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Here's a look at six hot topics:


Marcus Mariota**

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 19-of-31 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Chiefs, and he engineered some big drives late as the Titans rallied.

Mariota caught one of his passes for a bizarre touchdown, and he even threw a key block to spring a critical first down run by Derrick Henry.

Mariota's mobility was a big factor on a day when he ran for 46 yards on eight carries.

Mularkey on Sunday said Mariota's improved healthy has been key to his recent success.

"I think you saw that yesterday," Mularkey said of Mariota. "The difference from yesterday to a number of games during the year, when he didn't have the ability to do some of the things we did, especially escaping the pocket and making some first downs. He had (several) first downs he converted himself by running it (was evident).

"It kind of shows you what we can do when he is healthy."


Henry to start**

Henry ran for 156 yards and a touchdown – a big 35-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter – against the Chiefs.

It came a week after he was held to just 51 yards and a 1.8-yard average against the Jaguars.

It should be a confidence-booster, Mularkey said.

"He saw the tale of two tapes," Mularkey said of Henry. "He hit some holes yesterday that we got five, six yards on them just by him hitting it with that big body and that big frame. And I think our o-line and our tight ends did a really good job of blocking for them.

"The combination of everything, I think you saw what he can do when he runs the ball like that. … We're not telling him that he can't bounce it (to the outside) – there's going to be times when that happens. But I thought he was much more consistent trusting the blocking scheme yesterday."

Mularkey said he anticipates Henry starting again against the Patriots.

"Right now, Derrick is in the starting lineup," Mularkey said.

Murray update

Titans running back DeMarco Murray has missed the past two games with a knee injury, but Mularkey hasn't ruled him out for Saturday's game.

"DeMarco will probably be day-to-day this week, so we'll see to the extent of what he can play," Mularkey said. "A limited role? We don't know that yet. I've got to see him actually run and do something. It would have helped having an extra day but it is what it is.

"He's really the only one that has anything significant to talk about."


Support from ownership**

Earlier on Sunday, Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk issued a statement in support of Mularkey, which dispelled some national rumors about his job security.

"Our mantra all season has been to take things week by week and not get ahead of ourselves and it obviously has served us well. I regret that outside rumors gained a life of their own," Strunk said. "No one has been a bigger supporter of Mike Mularkey than I have over the last two plus seasons. Mike and Jon have changed the culture of our team and organization and I am so happy we have been able to bring success on the field to our fans - winning 19 games over the last two seasons, including our first playoff win in 14 years. Just to eliminate any distractions moving forward, Mike Mularkey is our head coach and will be our head coach moving forward. We still have work to be done, including this week, but I am looking forward to the journey."

Mularkey said he appreciated the backing, calling it "nice."

He expressed some regret that the subject was discussed in his postgame press conference after the win at Arrowhead Stadium.

"It was nice," Mularkey said. "What I really want is just about our franchise and our organization and our team to be talked about. That is the gist of it. That is not how you want to open up a press conference. You want to talk about beating a really good football team in their backyard and that is what I really want it to be about, is what is happening good for our franchise."

Mularkey said he is "full steam ahead" in preparing for the Patriots.


Spain praise**

Guard Quinton Spain played all 70 snaps for the Titans against the Chiefs, and he performed well.

Spain was questionable leading up to the contest with a low back injury. He missed practice on Thursday leading up to the game. Pro Football Focus listed Spain as the team's highest graded player against the Chiefs, and Mularkey said he held up well.

"Spain played one of the better games he's played since he's been here," Mularkey said. "It was good to see, really good to see."

Cyprien hit

Titans safety Johnathan Cyprien made a huge impact on the game when he delivered a big hit on Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Kelce was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the second quarter. At that point in the contest, Kelce had already tallied four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.

"It was a great hit by Cyprien, a legal hit," Mularkey said. "Actually I thought the ball was out, and it should have been ruled a fumble that we had a chance to cover after watching it."

The Tennessee Titans edge the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 in an AFC Wild Card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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