Titans QB Marcus Mariota Hopeful for MNF Return



NASHVILLE, Tenn. –** As a youngster, Marcus Mariota used to dream about playing on Monday Night Football.

In Hawaii, it was Monday afternoon football, of course. But it was still a big deal.

After practice on Wednesday, the Titans quarterback said he hopes he'll be able to return to action against the Colts on Monday at Nissan Stadium.

"I feel a lot better," Mariota told reporters. "I have to give a lot of credit to the athletic staff, the training staff here. They've done a great job, and I am feeling good."

Mariota, inactive on Sunday in Miami because of a hamstring injury, said he was able to participate "in a good amount of practice, but I wasn't able to do everything."

When asked if he feels good about his chances of playing against the Colts, he responded: "Absolutely."

"We're going to take it day by day," Mariota said. "It's really no different than the process last week. As the days go on, hopefully I'll feel better and better. It is just taking it one day at a time and hopefully I'll be able to go. Hopefully towards the end of the week I'll get more on my plate and hopefully I'll feel comfortable to try and play on Monday."

Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he's been encouraged by Mariota's progress.

But he said his quarterback will have to be able to prove to coaches and trainers he has good mobility.

"He did more today than he did last week, and that's a good sign," Mularkey said of Mariota. "He's got to be able to move around pretty good to be able to play, and not put himself in a position where he is going to reinjure himself. He has to prove that by the end of the week."

Matt Cassel would start again at quarterback if Mariota's can't go.

Cassel completed 21-of-32 passes for 141 yards against the Dolphins, with a touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked six times.

Mariota was limited in practices last week because of the hamstring injury he suffered against the Texans. He spent a good portion of last week rehabbing the injury.

Brandon Weeden, signed last week, was Cassel's back-up against the Dolphins.

Mariota scored on two touchdown runs against the Texans – he turned on the jets on his 34-yard touchdown run, and he sprinted to the pylon – and made it – on a two-yard touchdown later in the game. Unfortunately, Mariota suffered a hamstring injury on his second score, and as a result he didn't finish the game.

On the season, Mariota has completed 66-of-110 passes for 792 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

"Growing up it was a dream of mine to play on Monday night," Mariota said. "Hopefully I'll get that opportunity on Monday and go out there and make the most of it."

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

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