Titans QB Marcus Mariota Upbeat After Day One of Camp


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota felt pretty good when he left Nashville in June.

The Titans quarterback had taken part in all 10 of the team's organized team activities, and minicamp. His comeback from last year's fractured fibula was well on its way.

When Mariota took the field for the start of training camp on Saturday, however, he felt even better.

"I feel great," Mariota told reporters after practice. "I think at that point and time when we left in June, I was in a good spot. But I think I got better every day. And to be able to be out here today and be able to run around and do some of the things coaches want me to do, I feel really good."

Mariota looked good on Day One. He delivered the ball with accuracy, and he was able to sidestep rushing defenders while in the pocket.

He made several memorable throws, including one down the sideline to tight end Delanie Walker, who made a sliding catch.

Titans coach Mike Mularkey said the team is still being cautious with Mariota, but said Saturday's practice was encouraging.

"He took a good majority of the reps," Mularkey said. "It was good to have him back, and I know his teammates are glad to have him back in the huddle. But we are being smart with him.

"I am pretty pleased today. He made some throws – the throw to Delanie, he dropped it in there. He had some out of pocket plays we did not do at all in the offseason and was great with throws. Those are good signs for Day 1, and I'll have a better feel when I watch the film of practice."

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 contest at Jacksonville. The quarterback added 60 rushing attempts for 349 yards and two touchdowns.

This offseason, the Titans have added some weapons to the offense.

One came with the addition of veteran Eric Decker, who made several nice grabs himself on Saturday, including a one-handed grab.

"He makes it easy," Mariota said of Decker. "He made a couple of great plays, and that is something to build off of and hopefully we'll carry that over. He's savvy, and he understands routes and ways to get open and create separation. So I think the way he was able to come out today and make plays says a lot about him and we are excited."

On Sunday, Mariota should have another weapon to throw to – receiver Corey Davis. On Saturday, the Titans reached a deal with their fifth overall pick, and he's expected to practice on Sunday.

"Huge,'' Mariota said of the Davis deal being reached. "We are happy to have him, and can't wait to get to work."

Moving forward, Mariota said he's focused on improving alongside his teammates, and getting better as a team.

Mariota said he feels confident in his recovery from injury. He said the process wasn't always easy, but working through it made him stronger.

He wants to build off his 2016 season while getting the Titans to the playoffs.

Mariota's 95.6 passer rating last year 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.

Mariota would've played in the Pro Bowl if he hadn't suffered the injury. From 2015-16, Mariota has thrown for 6,244 yards and 45 touchdowns, while throwing only 19 interceptions. His 93.6 passer rating during that time period ranks sixth in NFL history.

"It was a lot of fun to be out there with the guys, and I enjoyed it," Mariota said. "I was anxious to get back here right when we left (after minicamp). … I was ready to come back.

"Being able to be out there today, I felt great, and I was excited. You just feel like a little kid again out there playing ball."

Titans players take the field for Day 1 of the 2017 training camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones, Gary Glenn)