Vrabel: Titans Won't Play QB Marcus Mariota Until He's Ready

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Injured Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota stands behind head coach Mike Vrabel in the second half of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/James Kenney)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota's status has not changed since the end of last week, and his availability for Sunday's game vs. Jacksonville will depend on how much improvement he shows in the coming days.

That's according to Titans coach Mike Vrabel, who tackled another round of quarterback questions during his press conference on Monday.

Mariota was active but didn't play on Sunday 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.

Mariota, who is dealing with the lingering effects of an elbow injury, will be evaluated again today, and Vrabel said he's hopeful. Vrabel also made it clear the team plans to go with Gabbert until Mariota is ready.

"He is continuing to get treatment, and we want the best for him, we want the best for the team," Vrabel said of Mariota. "So when Marcus is improving, we'll let you guys know his status. … I am hopeful that it will improve as quickly as possible."

As of midday Monday, however, Vrabel said Mariota's status "is probably the same as it was Friday or Saturday," when the team decided to go with Gabbert for Sunday's game.

Mariota continues to get treatment.

"There's some things he can do, and there's some throws that he can't really comfortably make," Vrabel said of Mariota. "So we'll see where he's at as this thing goes on.

"… It could be something that actually … gets better overnight, and it gets better tomorrow. So that's kind of where we're at. We're waiting to see, and every day is a new day."

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 after watching the session and talking more with Mariota and the training staff, 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.

Mariota said last Wednesday he's working through some of the symptoms, including some slight tingling, but he's optimistic moving forward.

On Sunday, Mariota supported his teammates like a pro, Vrabel said.

"I thought he was great," Vrabel said. "I think the first guy that I turned around and saw (after the game) was Marcus. He was happy for the team, and he understands that we have to play the players that every week give us the best chance to win. … They all want to play, and they all want to go out there and help the team.

"But you have to be honest with the staff, be honest with your teammates, and say, 'I don't think I am helping the team by playing, and not being at 100 percent. … I think he handled it well, handled it like a professional, and he was ready to back up Blaine if he had to go in there."

Gabbert, an eight-year veteran who led the Cardinals to a win over the Titans last December, 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.

Vrabel said he's confident in Gabbert.

"He made some great throws, and he was the player of the game offensively," Vrabel said. "I think Blaine gave us a chance to win the game and he executed two great throws on that last drive."

The Tennessee Titans take on the Houston Texans in Week 2 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

The Tennessee Titans prepare to take on the Houston Texans in Week 2 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)