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Titans QB Marcus Mariota Encouraged by Progress


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota is making progress.

As the team kicked off its second week of organized team activities, the Titans quarterback feels the momentum building around the team, and the healing.

"I feel good," Mariota said after Wednesday's session. "I think practices have been clean, and obviously execution-wise you can do a little better in certain areas, but all in all I think everyone has done a good job."

Mariota, who suffered a fractured fibula on December 24 at Jacksonville, was on the field for the first day of organized team activities last week at Saint Thomas Sports Park. Mariota practiced all three days last week, and on Wednesday he wrapped up his fifth of ten OTAs scheduled this offseason. Mariota has been doing everything in the walk-throughs, and in individual drills.

He's also been working in the 7-on-7 periods, and said he's been impressed with some of the new additions, from receivers Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor to tight end Jonnu Smith.

"Both of those young receivers and even the young tight end, they have done a great job of just coming in and making plays,'' Mariota said. "There's a lot of time left, we have a lot of offseason left, but if they continue to ascend the way they are, they will help us and they will make an impact on our team."

On Wednesday, Titans coach Mike Mularkey revealed quarterback Matt Cassel suffered a thumb injury in Tuesday's practice. Cassel will be sidelined six weeks, but should be ready for training camp, Mularkey said.

The Titans expect Mariota to be ready for camp as well. Until then, quarterback Alex Tanney will get a bulk of the work, and undrafted free agent Tyler Ferguson should see his reps pick up as well.

Coach Mike Mularkey said the plan involving Mariota hasn't changed.

"I just have to stay the course and continue to follow the procedure that is laid out for me," Mariota said. "If I had it my way I would be out there right now. But I just have to continue to stay patient and continue to find ways to help the team off the field and really just focus on my mental side of it. (I need to) do little things that will help me be prepared once the season starts."

In his second NFL season, Mariota completed 276-of-451 passes for 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 95.6 passer in 2016 before suffering a fractured fibula in a Week 16. The quarterback added 60 rushing attempts for 349 yards and two touchdowns.

Mariota's 95.6 passer rating ranks third in franchise history for a single season, behind only Warren Moon's 96.8 in 1990, when he was the Associ­ated Press Offensive Player of the Year, and Steve McNair's 100.4 in 2003, when he was the NFL's Co-MVP.

So what's the next benchmark for Mariota this offseason? Being able to run full speed is one hurdle he's looking forward to crossing.

"Just being able to do rollouts, do everything normal, and just be the same guy, the same player that I was,'' Mariota said. "I think this is kind of the final step for me.

"It is close, and I am able to do a lot of things on the field, which kind of sucks because I feel like I can be out there and practice. But I just have to stay the course and stay focused on getting healthy and I'll be ready to go once the season begins."

Titans players take the field for Day 5 of the team's 2017 OTAs at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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