Titans See Improvement in Quarterback Marcus Mariota

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota increased his workload in practice on Thursday, and his coaches sounded impressed with what they saw.

Mariota continues to work his way back from the elbow injury that kept him out of Sunday's game vs. Houston.

The Titans face the Jaguars this Sunday in Jacksonville.

"I would say that Marcus is actually better," Vrabel said. "I felt like he threw the ball better today, so that is positive. It is moving in the right direction. And we'll just see where he's at tomorrow."

Mariota once again practiced wearing a glove with two open fingers on his right hand. He threw passes in the open portion of practice.

Vrabel said Mariota took "close to the majority" of reps, "more than half," he said. The Titans listed Mariota as limited in Thursday's session, the same as Wednesday.

Mariota was active but didn't play vs. the Texans. Back-up quarterback Blaine Gabbert got the start, and guided the Titans to a 20-17 win at Nissan Stadium. He was awarded a game ball for his performance.

Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said Mariota is beginning to look more like himself.

"I think he has gotten a little bit better every day," LaFleur said. "Today is the best he's thrown the ball since all this occurred vs. Miami. We'll just kind of take it day by day and see where he's at on Sunday."

Mariota didn't finish the season opener against the Dolphins after suffering the elbow injury. He was a full participant in last Wednesday's session leading up to the game vs. Houston, but the team decided to scale back his work on Thursday and then again on Friday.

Mariota was injured in the season opener after taking a hit by Dolphins defensive lineman William Hayes. Mariota had just handed the ball off to running back Derrick Henry, and he didn't have the ball when he was hit.

Gabbert, an eight-year veteran, completed 13-of-20 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's contest. He engineered a 12-play, 62-yard drive that was capped off by kicker Ryan Succop's game-winning field goal with one minute left.

Mariota acknowledged on Wednesday he still feels some numbness and tingling in his fingers as a result of the injury. Mariota said the whole hand is affected by the injury "but the numbness and the (tingling) is a couple of fingers. The weakness is the whole hand, and that is what I am working on."

The Titans will continue to watch him.

Vrabel said the team will need to trust what Mariota is telling them, but they'll also make a decision on the starter based on what they see.

"I think there is a little bit of both," Vrabel said. "I think we have to always do what is best for the team, and I think Marcus understands that, and appreciate that. So you have to kind of combine both. 'Hey, I feel great.' And then (we) have to trust what we see."

The Tennessee Titans take the field for practice on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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