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Zach Mettenberger to Start at QB on Sunday


NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Zach Mettenberger will start at quarterback on Sunday for the Tennessee Titans.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt on Friday ruled Marcus Mariota out against the Falcons, after the rookie quarterback missed his third straight day of practice.

Mettenberger, who started six games for the Titans in his rookie season a year ago, said after practice he's ready to go.

"I'm excited for the opportunity,'' Mettenberger said. "The important thing is we go out there and try and get a team win, and that is really my job. It doesn't matter who is out there pulling the trigger. Everyone expects you to win a football game and that is what we have been working toward this week.

"Hopefully we can string together some good drives and put some points on the board."

Mariota was held out of practice for the third straight day on Friday. He was listed as out on the team's injury report.

Mariota suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee against the Dolphins.

"We are going to list him as out for this game, a combination of (him) just missing practice and not quite being there,'' Whisenhunt said of Mariota. "We decided that was the best way to go.

"Zach has had a good week. It is obvious that he is more comfortable in the offense, and he is healthier (this year).  Last year he was struggling with some of the things with his knee, but he had a good week of work."

Mariota did not address reporters on Thursday and Friday. He said on Wednesday he was hoping to play.

Mariota was injured early in the second quarter of the team's 38-10 loss to the Dolphins when Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon dove and hit Mariota on the back of his left leg after he released the football.

Mariota finished the game with a brace on his left knee.

"We want to get him back on the field as soon as possible,'' Whisenhunt said of Mariota, "it just won't be this week."

Veteran Charlie Whitehurst will be Mettenberger's back-up.

In five games, Mariota has thrown for 1,239 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions, with a 93.2 rating.

Mettenberger completed 107-of-179 passes for 1,412 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions last season while starting six games. The Titans went 0-6 in those contests.

Mettenberger went 5-of-8 for 63 yards when he replaced Mariota on Sunday vs. the Dolphins.

"I am going to take what I learned last year and everything that I have learned this offseason up to this point and try to put together a clean game,'' Mettenberger said.

"Marcus, he is one of the best guys ever. He is a class act. He said he is behind me 100 percent and whatever I need he is going to help me out with. He knows that's what I do for him each week and that is kind of the relationship that we have. We are both team guys, and we want to get some wins."


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