Zach Mettenberger Ready for Familiar Opponent


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — There's good news and bad news surrounding the Titans, the Texans, and quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

The bad news is the last four times the Titans have faced the Texans, they've done so without their starting quarterback in the lineup. With starter Marcus Mariota already ruled out for Sunday's game against the Texans at Nissan Stadium, the streak will be extended to five games.

The good news is Mettenberger is familiar with the Texans – three of his eight career starts have come against them, including the November 1 contest this season, and both games last year after Jake Locker was injured.

"(The experience) should help,'' Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey said of Mettenberger. "He's going to know their rush, he is going to know their secondary. He is going to know their defense better than most. It's his fourth start (against them)."

The Titans plan to reevaluate Mariota next week, after Sunday's game against the Texans. Mariota suffered a knee injury on Sunday vs the Patriots.

Mettenberger replaced Mariota on Sunday, and he completed 20-of-28 passes for 242 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the game.

Mettenberger said immediately after the game he'd be ready.

"Marcus is the toughest kid I know,'' Mettenberger said after Sunday's game. "In any situation I am going to prepare like I'm the starter."

While Mettenberger doesn't have a win in three starts against the Texans, he's put up good numbers.

In three career starts vs Houston, Mettenberger has completed 62-of-91 passes (68.1%) for 654 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating: 86.1.

• In his first career start against the Texans last October, he went 27-of-41 for 299 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, with a passer rating of 93.4.

• Last November, Mettenberger was 13-of-19 for 184 yards with one touchdown and one interception against the Texans, with a 95.1 rating.

• Earlier this season, in a 20-6 loss at Houston, Mettenberger was 22-of-31 for 171 yards with one interception, and a 70.8 rating.

Mettenberger started two games in place of Mariota earlier this season.

Mularkey said Mettenberger is a different quarterback than he was a year ago, as a rookie.

"I think his body has changed a little bit,'' Mularkey said. "He's bigger, obviously he's trimmed down, and he's been in an NFL weight room now. But I think just the experience, even out in practice, has helped. (Sunday), he did some really good things for us. There have been some things I know he'd like to take back and he's got to quit doing, trying to force some of the deeper throws when they're not there. But I thought for the most part, for those throws like to DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham), I thought those were plays that it was good to see he can do things like that."

On the season, Mettenberger has completed 69-of-102 passes (67.6%) for 663 yards, with three touchdowns and five interceptions. He has a passer rating of 74.9.

Mettenberger's career numbers, in 12 games, and eight starts: 176-of-281 for 2,075 yards, with 11 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He has a career passer rating of 80.3.

Keeping Mettenberger from getting hit will be key again on Sunday, of course. The Texans sacked him seven times back on November 1.

"We've got to obviously do some things different, maybe a lot of things different than we did that previous game,'' Mularkey said. "But we're in the process of putting a game plan together right now and how we're going to protect him. That's obviously, I told you guys last week, that's a primary concern – how to protect the quarterback. Everybody is a part of it in each room and we'll look at what happened last time. Obviously, we've got to make some adjustments so it doesn't happen again, but it will be addressed."


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