5. QUARTERBACK Marcus Mariota
The heart of every single Titans fans broke into two pieces last December when quarterback Marcus Mariota suffered a fracture to his leg against the Jacksonville Jaguars, an injury that ended his season and required almost five months of rehab. Questions about how the ailment would affect his mobility were asked rampantly, and the Titans maintained that the effects would be short-term.
During the first two weeks of Training Camp, it’s seemed like that statement was true. Mariota has moved around well and thrown the ball on the run with precision. The offense has even run a few designed quarterback runs, something that shows they’re confident in his legs.
However, it’s really easy to look good coming back from an injury on the practice field. Yes, pads are on. Yes, it’s full speed. But there’s one thing you don’t get in practice: contact. There is a reason why quarterbacks wear the bright red jersey in Training Camp: it serves as a reminder to not touch him under any circumstances.
On Saturday night against the Jets, there won’t be a red jersey for Mariota to don that gives him tackle immunity. The Jets, much like the Titans, will be ready to finally hit someone in a different colored jersey, and that starts with the opposing quarterback. It will be interesting to see if Mariota continues to look comfortable in the midst of a real pass rush, and whether or not he truly trusts his leg.