Titans Want to Limit Hits on QB Marcus Mariota


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —On the same play Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota slipped and lost his shoe in Sunday's loss to the Browns, he also injured his ankle.

Mariota played through the pain, however, and coach Ken Whisenhunt said on Monday he should recover well with treatment on the ankle during the week. The Titans face the Colts on Sunday.

"He's a tough kid,'' Whisenhunt said. "I don't think you could have gotten him out of the game (at Cleveland).

"He took too many shots yesterday, so obviously he is a little banged up, a little sore. But he is in good spirits, and he is doing OK."

Mariota was sacked seven times against the Browns, and hit on 11 occasions. By the end of the game he was limping, with a bandage on his chin.

It was a disturbing sight for members of the team's offensive line, a group in charge of protecting the rookie quarterback who leads the NFL in passer rating after two weeks of the season.

"It was just disgusting,'' left tackle Taylor Lewan said. "We have to do a better job of protecting. Seven sacks is sad and disturbing. To have a guy like Marcus on your team, he is a guy you want to play for, he is a guy you want to block for and to see him on the ground and to have him get picked up so many times, it's sad. We'll fix it."

"It's unacceptable,'' left guard Byron Bell said.  "We have to clean stuff up. Marcus is going to do well in this league, and he is going to continue to get better and be fine. We can't have him wondering if he's going to get hit every play. He has to be able to play with confidence back there, and we have to do a better job up front to keep him on his feet."

After watching tape of Sunday's 28-14 loss to the Browns on Monday, Whisenhunt said the Titans are focusing on protection and ball security – Mariota fumbled three times against the Browns, and lost two of them.

Whisenhunt said the Titans have to get to the line of scrimmage quicker so the entire group can communicate better, and get protections the right way. Having a rookie quarterback and a rookie right tackle (Jeremiah Poutasi) make things more of a challenge earlier in the season, Whisenhunt said.

Watching the film of Mariota getting hit time and again provided some painful moments for everyone a day later. "I hope it will create a sense of urgency for us,'' said Whisenhunt, "so when we get out of the huddle and get to the line and get set so we don't have those communication problems that can lead to those types of things."

Despite getting pummeled on several plays, Mariota still had a solid day against the Browns. He completed 21-of-37 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns in the game, with a 96.3 rating.

Mariota leads NFL quarterbacks with a 129.9 passer rating over the first two weeks of the season. Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (128.4), Arizona's Carson Palmer (124.4) and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (122.6) rank directly behind him.

Through his first two NFL games, Mariota has completed 34 of his 53 pass attempts for 466 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.  His 129.9 passer rating is the highest rating by any Super Bowl-era quarterback (since 1966) in his first two career starts.

Following his four-touchdown showing in the season opener at Tampa Bay,* *Mariota on Sunday became the first quarterback in NFL history to record six total touchdown passes within the first two games of his career.  There were four previous quarterbacks with five touchdown passes in their first two games: Johnny Green (Buffalo, 1960), Greg Cook (Cincinnati, 1969), Mark Rypien (Washington, 1988) and Gus Frerotte (Washington, 1994).

Titans tight end Delanie Walker didn't play against the Browns. He instead watched from the sideline, nursing a hand injury. What he saw was a quarterback who got hit way too many times.

Walker said that needs to stop.

"He is a warrior,'' Walker said of Mariota. "He showed us a lot, and that he is not going to come out of the game. He took some big hits and those are things we don't want to happen.

"Some of the hits he took, those were some big hits. But those are things that just can't happen. Thank God he was able to get up and finish the game."


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