NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota looks faster this summer.
He won't say it, but I'm willing to.
Minus the cumbersome knee brace he'd worn since suffering a knee injury his first NFL season, Mariota has displayed an extra gear when he's taken off in practices, and in games.
It was part of his plan.
"That's up to you guys," Mariota said on Tuesday. "Maybe. I hope so. That's what I worked on in the offseason, and hopefully that will translate to the field."
Mariota is certain of one thing: All the time he spent just focusing on football -- and not on recovering from an injury like last offseason -- has paid off.
Less than three weeks before the regular season opener at Miami, Mariota feels good.
"It's been so important for me," he said. "And I think to be able to go through this offseason, to get the live reps, to dive in the offense with these guys I think has been so beneficial for me. I look forward to kind of bringing that and taking that into the season."
But first things first.
The Titans are preparing for preseason game No.3 this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
So far, Mariota has played in three series with the first team offense. He's completed 6-of-10 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, with a passer rating of 142.5.
Mariota has eight yards on two carries during the preseason, including a seven-yard sprint in Green Bay. He did some running in practices against Tampa Bay.
What would Mariota like to see against the Steelers he hasn't seen yet? In Pittsburgh, the starters are expected to get their most playing time of the preseason.
"Really, honestly, nothing for us changes." Mariota said. "It's being efficient, it's going out and scoring points. It's going to be a good test. I think when you get to go on the road, especially somewhere like Pittsburgh, it's going to be a good test for us, especially how young we are. Hopefully we go out there and we're efficient."
The Tennessee Titans take the field for practice on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)