Titans Believe Marcus Mariota Ready for Next Step



Titans players hit the field for the start of the team's off-season workout program at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (staff photos)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — **As Titans coach Mike Mularkey sat at a table at the NFL owners meetings last month, he reflected on quarterback Marcus Mariota's rookie year.

And he marveled at his success.

"It was much better than most rookie quarterbacks starting out,'' Mularkey said. "Marcus handled it all extremely well. All of the things he went through, including a head coaching change. I think he handled everything with poise.

"And anybody who walks into the locker room in Year 2 is going to be more comfortable, and have more confidence. It is overwhelming when you come in the locker room as a rookie, but things will be so familiar to him now. He won't be starting from scratch. And that should help him a great deal."

Mariota walked back in the locker room at the start of Year 2 on Monday. Mariota and the rest of the Titans reported for the start of the team's offseason program, and one of the first things Mariota talked about was his comfort level.

Yes, he'll have a new offensive coordinator in Terry Robiskie, and a large number of new teammates.

But following a rookie season when he broke rookie records for most touchdowns (19), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing attempts (370), he can also focus on making himself better. He plans to be more vocal, and wants to be more of a leader.

He also wants to clean some things up in his game.

"For one, turnovers,'' Mariota said when asked about what he'd like to improve. "Fumbling was kind of a bad habit that even I had in college that I need to continue to fix. To me what's most important alongside of that is stepping up as a leader, being more vocal and then just finding ways to win. I think that's kind of been the tone for the last few months here, is just finding ways to win, however that may be. Just find a way to get it done."

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

Titans cornerback Jason McCourty said Mariota will benefit greatly from having a year under his belt. Mariota played in 12 games as a rookie after being selected second overall in the NFL Draft. He missed four games with knee injuries.

"When you come in as a rookie, and as a high-profile rookie like him, everybody is kind of looking at you to see what you can do," McCourty said of Mariota. "And for him, he proved to not only us but the entire league what he's capable of doing.

"They always say the biggest jump in your career is year one to year two, just with the learning experience, the confidence to know that you can get it done. So I'm excited and I'm looking forward to see how he progresses in year two. And I think for those guys on offense, they already know. There's no trial period. We know he's our guy. We know what he can do, and it's kind of up to the guys around him to help build that offense."

After working out in Oregon, Hawaii and California during the past few months, Mariota plans to spend the next several months around teammates in the offseason program.

The Titans will conduct OTAs in May and June, along with a three-day minicamp in June. Mariota joined the team in May last year after spending most of last season preparing for the combine, his pro day at Oregon, private workouts, and making pre-draft visits.

"Marcus, at this time last year, he was getting ready for the draft," Mularkey said on Monday. "He had a lot of things going on this time last year. Even after the draft, he had a lot of things going on. His preparation, this is not a total overhaul of the offense. There's definitely going to be a difference for him in the offense, but he's going to have a good head start in regards to running this offense."

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