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Six Hot Topics From Titans Coach Mike Mularkey's Presser


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans coach Mike Mularkey held his season-ending press conference on Sunday, one day after the team's 35-14 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional playoffs.

Here's a look at six hot topics:


Mariota talk**

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota battled through "wear and tear" during the season, and had injuries that limited him on the field.

But Mularkey said there are no plans for Mariota to have any type of procedures during the early part of the offseason.

And Mularkey believes Mariota should benefit from having an entire offseason to work on football instead of rehabbing like he did last season when he was recovering from the fractured fibula he suffered on December 24.

Mularkey believes Mariota's injuries impacted his play in 2017.

"It will be very instrumental (in his development)," Mularkey said. "To not have him in the training room, and not have Corey Davis in the training room. To have these guys all football, and focusing on football. It will be instrumental for both of those guys."

Coaching staff

Mularkey was asked about potential changes on his coaching staff this offseason, and he indicated he currently has no plans for a shakeup.

Mularkey said he was happy with the job offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie did in 2017. The Titans ranked 23rd in the NFL in total offense in 2017 (15th rushing, 23rd passing).

"I think Terry did a very good job, a very good job," Mularkey said. "Being a playcaller, that's not easy. I thought he did a very good job."

Mularkey said he has not talked to defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau about his future, but he anticipates him coming back. The Titans finished 13th in the NFL in total defense in 2017 (4th rushing, 25th passing).

"He is an amazing man," Mularkey said.


Running game**

Mularkey said running back Derrick Henry benefited from getting three starts at the end of the season, and saw improvement.

Henry led the Titans with 744 rushing yards in 2017. He turned in a 156-yard performance in the team's playoff game win over the Chiefs.

Running back DeMarco Murray ran for 659 yards this season, but missed the last three games with a knee injury. Mularkey said he was hampered with injuries this season.

"We have two of the better backs in the league," Mularkey said. "And I'm pretty happy with it."

When asked if Henry will be the lead running back heading into next season, Mularkey replied: "I'll let you know that when we get going into next season."

Progress made

The Titans cleaned out their lockers on Sunday, one day after the team's season came to an end.

The Titans finished 9-7 for the second straight year, and made it to the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season. The Titans won a playoff game for the first time since the 2003 season.

"I thought our team took another step," Mularkey said. "Last year we went to 9-7, didn't win the tiebreaker and didn't go to the playoffs. This year we won enough games to go, and to me that is a step in the right direction. Obviously we still have work to do to take the next one.

"But I am very proud off this football team. They've done a lot of things over these last two years based on where we were the year before with the first pick in the draft. … I know they are all disappointed in the loss and the season being over, but they have a lot to be proud of."

Mularkey noted the Titans went 5-1 in the AFC South this season, but added "we have a lot to do if we want to take the next step."

Injury News

Titans right tackle Jack Conklin suffered a torn left ACL in Saturday's game and will need surgery.

Tight end Jonnu Smith suffered a torn MCL in the game. Smith should be able to return for organized team workouts this offseason, although Conklin's injury could impact his start to the 2018 season.

"Jack Conklin tore his ACL, and he will have surgery in the next two weeks," Mularkey said. "He will be a possible PUP candidate once we get though training camp just based on the timing of the injury, which is unfortunate."

Conklin started all 16 games for the second straight season in 2017 a year after being named All-Pro following his rookie year in 2016. Conklin was a first-round draft pick by the team in 2016.

Conklin suffered the injury in the first quarter of Saturday's game and did not return.

"It's now how you want to go into the offseason," Mularkey said of Conklin. "It's a lot of work. Jack will have no problem doing that – that's the kind of player he is, the person he is. It is disappointing for him. He had a good year, and to end it that way.

"Nobody wants to see anybody get hurt. It is disappointing because he has a long rehab to go."


Young receivers**

Davis, the fifth overall pick of the NFL Draft, ended his rookie season with a bang.

Davis caught five passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns against the Patriots. He finished the regular season with 34 catches for 375 yards.

Meanwhile, third-round pick Taywan Taylor had 16 catches for 231 yards in his rookie season.

"Again, I would like to see Corey start football from Day 1 when he gets back in here in April, and not be in the training room rehabbing," Mularkey said. "That was the case with him even through training camp. So I would like to see him the weight room, and get a full year of NFL weight room.

"Taywan, I'd say same thing. Be around it for a year. The development from Year 1 to Year 2, it is pretty amazing what happens to these guys. Their bodies, they are much more confident when they come in here. It's not too big for them, and they are not too bright eyed. I think it will be good for both of those guys when they get in here."

Titans players clear out their lockers at Saint Thomas Sports Park, signaling the start of the 2018 offseason. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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