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Titans QB Marcus Mariota Focused on Present, Not Past



NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** The last time Marcus Mariota stepped foot inside University of Phoenix Stadium, he was a redshirt freshman at the University of Oregon.

Back in 2013, Mariota threw two touchdown passes and ran for another as Oregon beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.

But don't expect Mariota to do much reminiscing before the Titans face the Cardinals on Sunday in Glendale, Arizona.

"Probably not until after the game," Mariota said after Wednesday's practice. "Once I get to the stadium and all that, I really try to key-in on what I have to do and what's expected of me for that day. But yeah, there's a lot of good memories in there and I look forward to getting back in there. … It was definitely a good memory and a good way to end a really good season."

Mariota is in the middle of another good season, with the Titans.

The Titans (8-4) have won six of seven games heading into Sunday's contest against the Cardinals (5-7).

Mariota has enjoyed great success in previous games vs. NFC opponents. In eight career games vs. the NFC, Mariota has thrown 20 touchdowns vs three interceptions for a 119.0 rating. He'll be aiming for his fifth game in a row vs. the NFC with two touchdown passes and a 100-rating on Sunday.

But Mariota knows it won't be easy.

The Cardinals are ranked 13th in the NFL on defense, which has one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Patrick Peterson. The Cardinals also have a productive pass rusher in linebacker Chandler Jones, who ranks 2nd in the NFL with 13 sacks.

"It's going to be tough, it's a challenge," Mariota said. "We've just got to go out there and do the best that we can. We can't be afraid to throw against him, but at the same time we understand where he's at and we do know that he can make a bunch of plays and can change the game.

"It's a great challenge, you're talking about probably one of the better secondaries in the game. I've played against a couple of these guys in college. It's going to be a fun opportunity and I look forward to it."

The Titans, tied with the Jaguars atop the AFC South, have four games left in the regular season.

It's crunch time, and Mariota is happy to be in the thick of things.

"This is what we've worked for, this is what we want, this is where we want to be," he said. "I think as we continue forward, these experiences, these things will continue to help us grow as an organization.

"I think confidence is high (on offense). I think we can still improve, though. When we're able to win football games when we're not playing to the best of our abilities, that's huge. You've got to give a lot of credit to the defense and special teams. But, at the same time, if we start pushing it on all cylinders and our defense continues to play well, and the special teams continue to do their job, this team can be very good."

Titans players take the field for Wednesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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