Will Mariota Take Off and Run More Down the Stretch?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota made all the highlight shows with his Forrest Gump-like run against the Jaguars on Sunday, when he sprinted past defenders on the way to the end zone.

Mariota's 87-yard scamper was one for the record books. It was the longest run in franchise history by a quarterback, and the third-longest run by a quarterback in league history.

Since, Mariota has received props and pokes.

"A lot of my friends are giving me a bad time, saying I am out of shape and that sort of stuff,'' Mariota said with a smile after Wednesday's practice. "But any time something like that happens it is special. But it couldn't have been possible without the teammates who were downfield blocking. It was a lot of fun."

On the season, Mariota now has 249 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, on 31 carries.

In recent weeks, he's taken off more often – 20 of his 31 carries have come in the last four games. 

"It is just happening that way,'' Mariota said.  "I just think the last couple of weeks the defenses have given me opportunities to run around a little bit."

So, will Mariota be running more down the stretch? On Sunday, the Titans face the NFL's top-ranked rushing defense in the Jets.

Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey doesn't mind. He said one of the reasons Mariota has run the ball more of late has been because he's healthier now than he was earlier in the season. Mariota missed two games earlier with a knee injury he suffered on October 18 against the Dolphins.

"There is more by design,'' Mularkey said. "It is a feel thing for him. It is how the protection is holding up, what he sees in front of him...But I have no problem (with him) running...He is very good at trying to avoid contact."

Mariota, who ran for 2,237 yards and 29 touchdowns at Oregon, said he'll sometimes take off when he's trying to make a play.

"I'll do whatever it takes to win,'' he said. "That has always been my mentality."

Something else that's also on his mind along the way: Don't take a big hit.

"I learned the hard way. My freshman year at Oregon I took a couple of hits and it kind of woke me up a little bit,'' Mariota said. "You kind of get a feel for it. Sometimes you might get tagged here and there based on you trying to make a play."

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