NASHVILLE, Tenn. —While watching Marcus Mariota from afar, offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie thought the Titans quarterback was "extremely special."
"The long run he made against Jacksonville,'' Robiskie said of Mariota's 87-yard touchdown run against the Jaguars last December, "was about as unique as I've ever seen. You look at it and say, 'Wow.' (Mariota) is one of those 'Wow' guys. He is one of those guys where you are sitting down and watching tape on him and you say, 'Wow.'"
After watching Mariota during the team's first eight days of organized team activities, Robiskie is even more excited about the player he plans to build the offense around.
"Marcus has had some days — and I am not talking about running — where he's made some phenomenal plays. He's made some great calls, and he's done a great job on what we're installing,'' Robiskie said of Mariota. "He's done a great job of changing protection — he's done a phenomenal job at that. And he's made some throws that make you go, 'No, no, no, no! Great, good job.'"
Hired by coach Mike Mularkey in January, Robiskie is getting to know his players better each day, although he admits it's a learning process. Robiskie joined the team after spending the past eight seasons as wide receivers coach with the Falcons. He has 34 years of coaching experience in the NFL, including six seasons as an offensive coordinator.
Robiskie worked under Mularkey when he served as offensive coordinator in Atlanta, and he also worked with him in Miami.
"Every day we come out, you find out more and more about guys,'' Robiskie said. "The same thing I said about Marcus, watching all the film last year, watching all the tape last year, I saw this guy that was special. But today I walk out on the field and saw him make a throw and I'm like, "Wow!' Two days ago I was standing behind him and I knew what the play was and I knew the ball shouldn't be going there and I said, 'No, no, no. OK, great.' So even Marcus, a guy that is that talented and has a chance to grow, you keep watching him and … you learn more every day.
"… Today I can see a guy run 100 miles per hour and go over and touch a guy and put his hands on him, and I can say he would have (blocked) him. I can say he would have hit him. But when you put the pads on, that is when it all comes to life. That is when you really find out (about players)."
During a 16-minute conversation with reporters after practice on Tuesday, Robiskie touched on a number of topics, from Mariota to the offensive line to his running backs to his receivers to the team's rookies on offense.
The offense is a work in progress, he said. Starting spots along the offensive line can still be had, he said.
Something Robiskie preaches -- physicality – is something he's going to have to wait and see.
During the offseason, NFL teams aren't supposed to hit in practices. Players wear helmets, along with shorts and jerseys – no pads.
"Now, it is just a matter of going fast,'' Robiskie said. "Going fast and playing fast and practicing fast. That is a challenge in itself, just to tell a guy to go across and be physical and be aggressive and knock him down and you try and tell him that and try and coach him but at the same time you can't do it – you can't even come close at this time of the year.
"But I think the big thing for us is to get guys to go fast and compete and be on your man, to finish on your man, on your guy, so we can look at the tape an say, 'Yes, he would have knocked him down. Yes, he would've gotten that block."
But Robiskie is excited, and he can't hide it.
He'll call the plays for the Titans on offense this season.
"It is exciting,'' Robiskie said. "It is exciting, and it is fun. And I think that is the good part about it, the excitement of sitting down at night and designing and creating and coming out on the field and calling it. You feel fabulous when it works, even in practice. You go out and design something and create something and it is a touchdown, it is fantastic."
Titans veterans and rookies take the field for Day 8 of OTAs at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)