NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Marcus Mariota will start Saturday night when the Tennessee Titans open the preseason at the New York Jets.
How long Mariota will play has yet to be determined, but it will mark the quarterback’s first game since breaking his right leg in the Titans’ loss at Jacksonville last Christmas Eve.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said how much Mariota plays will be decided in Thursday night’s personnel meeting.
“I think it’s important for him to get in a real game, against a real rush where they can actually (hit him),” Mularkey said after Monday night’s practice. “They can get close to him here, but they are instructed to stay away from him at all costs. It’ll be good to hopefully not have anybody around him, that’s the ultimate goal, but it’ll be good for him to get his feet wet.”
Mularkey joked that he has another reason for playing Mariota.
“I don’t want to see what he would do if I told him he couldn’t play,” Mularkey said.
Mariota has shown no issues when running in training camp. He even executed a read-option run, a rare play in camp, on Monday night.
“We’ve had it in since day one,” Mularkey said. “It’s based on the read whether he’s going to run it or not. We have more than one option on some of those plays. It just so happened that tonight, the option for him to run came up.”
Teammates have marveled at Mariota’s recovery even as some would rather not see their quarterback put himself in harm’s way too often by running with the football.
“When we watch the film, he looks like his old self,” tight end Delanie Walker said. “The speed is there. But at the end of the day, I don’t want him running. We want to keep him healthy this whole year. We cringe when he runs, but he looks good. And as long as he looks good doing it, we should be good with that.”
Running back DeMarco Murray, sidelined since tweaking his hamstring last Wednesday, did individual work for the first time since the injury.
“I’m taking it slowly,” Murray said. “I’m feeling better than I was a week ago. With a hamstring you’ve got to be careful. You don’t want to have any setbacks and have it linger. It’s all about being smart.”
Mularkey said the Titans will be careful with Murray.
“We’ll see how he feels after what he did today, and hopefully we’ll get him out here tomorrow,” Mularkey said.
Notes: DE Karl Klug sat out practice with an injured left ankle, and LB Erik Walden missed with a groin injury. Mularkey said neither injury is serious.