Jim Wyatt, Senior Writer/Editor, TitansOnline.com
It’s been a busy offseason for Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. Heading into another week of organized team activities, Mariota feels good about the progress being made on a number of fronts.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Marcus Mariota has ditched the knee brace.
During the first wave of organized team activities, the Titans quarterback is giving it a go without anything slowing him down.
And he’s looked good, and felt good, along the way.
“It might be a different story when the pads roll on, but for now yeah (I’m not using the brace),” Mariota said. “I feel comfortable, I feel good. The whole knee brace, it felt restricting. But at the same time, I have to be smart and try to be safe out there. We’ll see (if I wear it during the season), I’m not sure. I haven’t made that decision yet.”
It’s been so far, so good for the Titans and Mariota this offseason.
After a three-day minicamp in April, the Titans went through three days of OTAs last week at Saint Thomas Sports Park. The team is scheduled to be back on the field for three days this week as the calendar flips to June.
For Mariota, it’s been a period of adjustments.
He’s learning a new playbook, while getting to know offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara better each day. He’s working on his technique, with some new players around him.
“It’s been great,” Mariota said. “Pat and Matt have been awesome. They’ve been tremendous in (continuing) to work fundamentals. At the same time, helping us learn the offense in a way that’s easy and just makes it so that everything is pretty smooth. I’ve got to give a lot of credit to them, I think they’ve done a great job so far. Again, as we progress forward there’s always going to be some bumps in the road but I think these guys have done a great job of handling everything.”
Mariota’s work in refining his technique started back in February, when he traveled to California not long after the 2017 season.
His mission heading into the offseason focused on improving his base, and his footwork. In 2017, Mariota threw for 3,232 yards with 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions while guiding the Titans into the playoffs.
After reviewing his season, however, Mariota knew he needed to make some adjustments. Mariota began working on widening his base, something he believes will improve his accuracy. Mariota first brought up the issue to reporters in April, and when asked for an update last week, he said he’s making progress.
With a solid base, Mariota believes he’ll be able to get rid of the ball faster, while making accurate throws.
“It’s coming,” he said. “It’s tough because it’s hard to break old habits. I think for a long time I’ve been playing with such a narrow base. If I’m able to accomplish, really, that goal of mine, to stay in a good solid base throughout, I think I can make a lot of the throws that are asked of me in this offense. As I continue to be out here, I’ve just got to continue to be mindful of it and find ways to just self-correct and just get better.
“It really started back in February, just working out. It’s something that I had worked on in California and was really kind of focusing on that. It’s gotten better, I think being out here. I’m fortunate that Matt (LaFleur) and Pat (O’Hara) and the rest of the offensive staff, they continue to incorporate those principles of having a base, and being able to throw from that platform. Again, as I go forward I think if I can continue to find that base, I can do my best to make all the throws.”
This much is certain: Mariota’s April and May this offseason have been much more beneficial compared to last spring, when he was recovering from surgery. Mariota suffered a fractured fibula in Week 16 of the 2016 season.
Getting on the same page with the team’s receiving corps – something else that started early this offseason with workouts in California – has been valuable as well.
“It feels real good,” Mariota said. “It’s completely different from last offseason. Being able to be out here with the guys and just do football, it’s nice. I think for me, it’s – obviously it’s been a long process to get through the injury, to get back. Really it’s just an awesome feeling to be out here with the guys and just getting better with these guys.
“I think at this point in time in the year, everybody is trying to put their best foot forward. It’s a brand new year. You want to start the year on a positive note, you just want to put forth your best football. When you have that, and I think that’s what we’re doing out there on the practice field, it makes for a competitive situation, a competitive atmosphere. Guys are going out there and trying to get better and improve. I think it’s a great foundation, and I think if we continue that and have those principles, we’ll continue to get better every day and be ready to go.”