The Titans wrap up the preseason on Thursday night against the Chicago Bears. Then the countdown will be on for the regular season opener at Cleveland on September 8.
Mariota, in his fifth NFL season, hasn’t played a lot in the team’s first three preseason games, and chances are he won’t play in the preseason finale against the Bears either. Still, he likes where the team is following OTAs, minicamps, training camp and the preseason despite some inconsistencies in preseason play.
“I think no matter what, we’re ready to go,” Mariota said. “Since spring, I think our guys have bought into what (OC Arthur Smith) has established. Again, it’s just building one day after another.
“For me, personally, I feel like I’ve played enough ball over the last few years to kind of understand and be ready to go. Obviously, you would love to score on every possession, especially in the preseason, but at the same time, it’s a work in progress. I think when we look back on it, it’s just another step in our journey.”
Mariota played just seven snaps in the team’s preseason loss to the Steelers, and he was sacked in the end zone for a safety.
The performance came on the heels of a nice outing vs. the Patriots, when Mariota completed 6-of-9 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown – an 11-yard strike to tight end Delanie Walker.
In three preseason contests, Mariota has completed 10 of 20 passes for 87 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. A year ago, Mariota completed 11-of-18 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason, along with an interception.
Still, practices have provided Mariota a chance to get on the same page with his receivers, from Corey Davis to Adam Humphries to A.J. Brown to Tajae’ Sharpe.
The Titans still have some things to sort through, including locking in a starting lineup on the offensive line.
Following Thursday night’s game, Mariota’s focus will be on getting ready for Cleveland. And getting better while working with his targets.
“I trust those guys,” Mariota said. “No matter what, just seeing our young guy A.J. (Brown) or Hump (Adam Humphries) when coaches are asking them questions in meetings, they can spit the answer back. Those (things) I think create that trust and that chemistry that we need. Give them the opportunity and those guys will go make plays.
“(I just need to) give our guys a chance to make a play, being a little more accurate with the football. From there, just developing and communicating across the board of what I see, what things to expect, where they need to be in terms of the play concept. Really from that point on, just a sense of urgency and knowing that no matter what, every play we’ve got to have a mentality to score.”