Titans Defenders Anxious to Pick Off QB Marcus Mariota


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- In the minds of Titans defenders, eight is enough.

Heck, they thought one was enough.

Eight practices. Yes, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has now gone through eight training camp practices without throwing an interception. He's thrown 140 passes combined in 7-on-7 and team drills, and not one of those passes has been picked off.

It begs a question which has been asked: Is Mariota's streak without an interception a testament to the rookie's decision-making, or a sign the defense needs to step it up?

Or maybe something else?

"We are just trying to let him build his confidence up before we take the ball away,'' linebacker Derrick Morgan said with a smile.

In reality, even defenders are scratching their heads at times.

"We are doing good; you watch the film and we are in a perfect position a lot of times,'' linebacker Zach Brown said. "Some of the throws we are like, "Man, did he really just place it there?

"I take my hat off to him -- he is a smart kid. He hasn't thrown one to us. We are still trying to get him. We have to get him."

Defensive back Blidi Wreh-Wilson agrees – Mariota has been smart with the football.

"He is really smart with the decisions, and he is throwing it where only his receivers can catch the ball,'' Wreh-Wilson said. "That is good for us because it gives us a chance to try and make plays on a quarterback who is very protective with the football and that is always somebody you want to get the ball from.

"Hopefully we can get one from him. That is a credit to him – he has been doing a great job taking care of the football."

Titans defenders have picked off the other three quarterbacks on the team. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger hasn't escaped unscathed, and neither has veteran Charlie Whitehurst. Alex Tanney has thrown a few picks himself.

But not Mariota.

Mariota has had some luck. Cornerback Coty Sensabaugh let two potential interceptions escape his grasp during a practice at Nissan Stadium on Saturday. Cornerback Perrish Cox let a near interception of Mariota get away from him earlier in the week. Others have had chances as well.

"I think it's a good and bad thing,'' Morgan said.  "It depends on what perspective you look at it. He is taking care of the ball and he is making smart decisions. I think we have to do a better job creating turnovers on defense if you ask me, but I think it's a great thing collectively, especially for Mariota."

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said he believes defenders are "really pulling for Marcus" and they "respect him and like him."

That doesn't mean they don't want to intercept him.

Safety Michael Griffin kidded the defensive backs might take up a pot for added incentive.

"Somebody is going to have to make a pot or something,'' Griffin said. "Heck, we can't kid Coty because (he didn't get one Saturday) because no one has one. Nobody can tease anybody.

"In the big picture, that is a good thing for us. It is a situation where you realize that for a young guy he is making all the right reads and there is nothing else you can ask for. You realize you are going into the game with a smart quarterback."

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