Titans Not Ruling Out Marcus Mariota for Season Finale


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Titans aren't ready to close the book on quarterback Marcus Mariota's 2015 season just yet.

Interim coach Mike Mularkey said on Monday the team plans to monitor Mariota's progress early in the week before making a determination on his status for Sunday's season finale against the Colts.

Zach Mettenberger, who started on Sunday against the Texans, remains on standby.

"Marcus did a little bit of drop backs today, not full speed,  just kind of the beginning stages to see if he can come back this week,'' Mularkey said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow. But again he did some things today we hoped he would do and we'll see how he feels from it tomorrow."

Mariota injured his knee during the second quarter against the Patriots on December 20 when he was sacked by New England linebacker Jamie Collins.

Mettenberger replaced Mariota in that contest, and he also started Sunday's 34-6 loss to the Texans.

Mariota missed two games earlier this season after suffering an MCL sprain in his left knee in the team's October 18 game against the Dolphins.

Mularkey said the Titans won't play Mariota if coaches and trainers believe he's not "100 percent."

"His health is the No.1 for us,'' Mularkey said. "He has such a great future ahead of us, he has lots of games to go. We won't expose him as all if there's anything there.

"I don't think he's (100 percent), not based on what we did today with him. It was limited with the drop backs to … kind of ease him into it. But he'll have more tomorrow and maybe Wednesday."

Mularkey said Mariota wants to play, but that won't factor into the decision. Mularkey said there's "more positives than negatives" to Mariota playing in the finale as long as he's healthy.

"I am going to take (into account) our trainers and our doctors and my own visual when I watch him,'' Mularkey said. "Any bit of doubt and he will not play."

Mariota's stats during the 12 starts in his rookie season: 230-of-370 (62.2%) for 2,818 yards, with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His final passer rating: 91.5.

Mariota, the second overall pick of the NFL Draft, has already broken several franchise rookie records, including most touchdowns (19), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing attempts (370). Mariota completed three or more touchdown passes on four different occasions during his rookie season. He joined Peyton Manning (four in 1998) as the only rookie to accomplish the feat.

Mariota watched Sunday's game against the Texans from the sideline.

Mettenberger, a sixth-round pick from LSU in 2014, has started nine games in his two NFL seasons. He's still looking for his first career win.

On the season, Mettenberger has completed 96-of-153 passes (62.7%) for 897 yards, with four touchdowns and six interceptions. He has a passer rating of 71.2.

Mettenberger completed 27-of-51 passes for 234 yards, a touchdown and an interception against the Texans.

He said afterward he was ready to play at Indianapolis. The Colts rallied to beat the Titans 35-33 back in September.

"Obviously we can't go in there and turn the ball over and have protection issues,'' Mettenberger said. "We've got to be able to make plays down the field. The last game we were in it. We got to avoid the situation where we let them back in the game, so we are going to work hard this week to get the fourth win of the year."


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