NASHVILLE, Tenn. – This time last year, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was still finding his way in the NFL.
During an impressive rookie season, Mariota got more comfortable each week.
This offseason, he's found his voice.
"Marcus is just a leader,'' tight end Delanie Walker said of Mariota. "You can tell he is starting to be more vocal. I think he is starting to get more comfortable with the system, and the guys are knowing that he is a leader on this team. So his throwing is always going to be good. But he looks faster, and he seems like he is grasping the offense really well. I am excited to see what he does."
The Titans began working in the team's offseason program on April 18, so the team is now a month in. Recently, the rookies joined the veterans in the program.
The Titans will be on the field for organized team activities next week at Saint Thomas Sports Park.
Already, some of the team's newcomers have been impressed with what they've seen from Mariota, the second overall pick in the 2015 draft.
"He is a great, great quarterback obviously,'' running back DeMarco Murray said of Mariota. "But he is also a great person. And a guy like that, you definitely want to be playing with and give your all. He is a quiet leader, he leads by example. But when he speaks everyone listens. I think he respects everyone, and everyone respects him. He works extremely hard. I have never been around a quarterback who works like he works."
Added center Ben Jones, who played his first four seasons with the Texans: "(He's a) very intelligent guy who is extremely athletic. I am just happy to be able to block for him and protect for him because he is a guy who can make big plays."
After a round of OTAs, the Titans will hold a three-day minicamp next month.
Training camp is expected to open at the end of July. The preseason kicks off in August.
New Titans receiver Rishard Matthews said he's excited about what he's seen, from the team – and Mariota.
In 2015, Mariota set franchise records for most touchdowns (19), completions (230), passing yards (2,818) and passing attempts (370) in his first NFL season despite missing four games with knee injuries.
"He's a great leader,'' Matthews said of Mariota. "He is doing what he needs to do to lead this team. He is a hard worker in the weight room and on the field. And he is taking the right steps to learn the offense and control the offense. He is doing a great job."
TitansOnline.com looks back at the 2015 rookie season of Titans QB Marcus Mariota. (AP Photos)