With Jameis Winston in Town, QB Marcus Mariota Reflects on Past, but Keeps Focus on Titans 


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The top two picks in the 2015 NFL Draft -- quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston -- didn't cross paths on Wednesday at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Mariota was busy guiding the Titans offense, while Winston had his business to take care of for the Buccaneers two fields away.

"It was separate, so I didn't really get a chance to go see him," Mariota said of Winston. "Being able to have that opportunity again to compete against another team is always good."

"I just know he's a great guy," Winston added on Mariota, "and I just love seeing him out here competing."

Yes, the Titans and Buccaneers held their first day of joint practices on Wednesday.

Mariota and the Titans offense had their moments, good and bad. Mariota connected with receiver Corey Davis time and again on Wednesday, especially on throws across the middle. He found Taywan Taylor on several occasions, and connected with receiver Tajae Sharpe on an impressive catch on the sideline. He showed off his wheels with a sprint to the outside.

There were also some drops, and pressure from the Buccaneers that would've likely resulted in sacks in games.

"It was pretty good," Mariota said of the day. "Honestly, it was great to come out here and practice against another opponent. I thought we got good work in, and I thought both teams got better.

"It's going to help for sure. I mean, being able to practice against them in a couple of days, you'll see some looks, you'll see some of the stuff that will probably come up on Saturday. So that being said, hopefully we can go out there and execute."

Not surprisingly, Mariota was asked a lot about Winston after Wednesday's session.

Winston was taken first overall in 2015, and Mariota went second. Mariota reflected on the past, but made it clear his focus remains on the future, and helping the Titans improve.

In his first NFL game, Mariota completed 13-of-15 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns in a win at Tampa Bay. The two teams haven't met in a game since.

"No matter what, I thought both of us wherever we went, we're going to have an opportunity to play, and it's always kind of interesting our paths cross again," Mariota said. "It is good to see him, and hopefully we'll just continue to find ways to get better and look back on it and just kind of laugh about it.

"… I really just try to focus on being the best that I can be. I don't try to compare myself to anybody, but again, like I said, it's good to see him out here. It's good to practice against Tampa, and also I think we've all gotten better from it."

The Titans will practice against the Buccaneers again on Thursday.

The two teams will square off in preseason game No.2 for the Titans on Saturday at Nissan Stadium.

In the preseason opener against the Packers, Mariota and the first team offense played one series. Mariota connected with receiver Darius Jennings for a touchdown to finish off that drive.

The Buccaneers will provide a different challenge.

"They're athletic, man. They can definitely move," Mariota said of the Bucs. "Those linebackers are flying around making plays. With that being said, being able to just go out there and see different looks. You practice against your defense constantly for the last two weeks, to be able to get a different front, to get different coverage will be hugely beneficial later on in the season.

"If we can go out there (Saturday), operate at a high tempo, operate where everybody's on the same page, we're all communicating, being efficient, that will be definitely success."

The Titans take the field for a joint training camp practice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018 at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Donn Jones Gary Glenn)

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