Titans vs Saints: Marcus Mariota back to work


Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota has been practicing at Saint Thomas Sports Park this week, and is expected to be back under center when the Tennessee Titans take on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

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Mariota has been out with a sprained MCL since the Titans lost to the Miami Dolphins on October 18th at Nissan Stadium.

It will be a completely different landscape when he takes the field at the Super Dome for the 1PM Eastern start in New Orleans.

Gone from the sideline is Ken Whisenhunt who was fired on Tuesday and replaced on an interim basis by tight ends coach Mike Mularkey. Mularkey will have nine games to turn this 1-6 season around and find some respectability for this proud old franchise.

A coaching change in mid-season for a rookie quarterback usually spells disaster, but if Amy Adams Strunk had not made the move, it is likely that the season would not have ended well anyway.

Mike Mularkey has promised a new toughness and a sorely-needed running game that will hopefully give Mariota some protection from the pass rush, and give him some time to find receivers. He has also passed off play-calling duties off to offensive coordinator Jason Michael.

Mariota will also find some changes to the offensive line this week that should help the running game and add some protection in the passing game.

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Rookie right tackle, Jeremiah Poutasi has been moved over to left guard, and Byron Bell moved over to right tackle. And with five tight ends on the roster, Mularkey has said he will be using Craig Stevens to help out with the pass rush.

Expect to see some two tight end sets on Sunday.

Mularkey has also named Antonio Andrews as the “bell cow” running back with Dexter McCluster coming in on special situations.

Andrews has shown us since returning to the lineup, that he can be the big bruising three-down back that can help this team move the chains on a regular basis. He likes to pound the ball between the tackles and be the downhill runner that Ken Whisenhunt refused to use.

Whisenhunt also kept telling us that Dorial Green-Beckham wasn’t ready for a full load, but the rookie wide receiver will be forced to mature this week because veteran, Kendall Wright is out with an MCL strain.

Fans have been calling for more DGB, and this week he will need to step up and become a play-maker this team, and Marcus Mariota desperately need.

The Tennessee Titans were largely exciting to watch up until the week five game with the Buffalo Bills, even though they lost a couple of close games. In the last three games, although the defense played well to keep them in the game, the offense stalled.

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I can take losses during a major rebuild like the Titans are going through at this time, but they need to at least be competitive in order to keep my interest.

I’m excited to see of Mike Mularkey can at least turn them back into the exciting team we saw in the first three weeks of the season.