Mariota eager to get to work, Titans now have to make QB fit

Published May. 1, 2015 10:13 p.m. EDT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Marcus Mariota said he did some homework studying schemes the Tennessee Titans sent him before the draft, and he also talked with Philip Rivers a little bit about his new coach.

Now he's ready for the next step.

''Right now it's an opportunity to learn as much as I can,'' Mariota said. ''I want to be able to come in and contribute and be the best teammate I can be. And in order to do that I need to be on top of my stuff.''

The Titans introduced their newest quarterback Friday night after the second overall pick traveled with his parents from Hawaii, a long night and day of traveling for the Heisman Trophy winner who got some sleep on the redeye flight.


He arrived wearing a T-shirt before changing into a camera-ready suit for his introduction.

Before he met the media, the Titans already had given Mariota a big target in 6-foot-5 receiver Dorial Green-Beckham as their second-round selection.

''That's definitely a nice contribution for sure,'' Mariota said.

The Titans liked Mariota so much they started tweaking their offense weeks ago to incorporate some of the spread offense that the quarterback ran so very well in Oregon.

Now coach Ken Whisenhunt has to work quickly to make him into his starter by Sept. 13 when the Titans open the season at Tampa Bay against the quarterback taken one spot ahead, Jameis Winston.

Whisenhunt said the No. 2 draft pick overall no matter the position is expected to produce and isn't worried about adding anymore pressure to Mariota.

''I think it is fair to say you expect him to start,'' Whisenhunt said. ''Is it going to be difficult for a quarterback to come in and start this first year? It's shown to be tough, but Ben (Roethlisberger) had pretty good success the first year he started with us. I know it can be done. But I really like the things that Marcus brings to the table that will hopefully enable him to do that.''

Both the Titans and Whisenhunt need Mariota to be their franchise quarterback.

Tennessee has started five quarterbacks in the previous three seasons. Whisenhunt has cycled through 11 quarterbacks in seven seasons as a head coach at Arizona, including three last year in his first season in Tennessee.

Whisenhunt has had plenty of success with quarterbacks such as Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, Kurt Warner in Arizona and with Philip Rivers in his lone season as offensive coordinator in San Diego.

He's also gone through quarterbacks named Matt Leinart, Max Hall, Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer and Jake Locker. Zach Mettenberger, who started six games as a rookie last year, hoped the Titans would let him have the job.

The 6-foot-4, 222-pound Mariota certainly fits the part of a big quarterback such as Roethlisberger.

Mariota won the Heisman Trophy after leading Oregon to the national championship game, and nobody won more than he did the past three seasons with 36 victories. He was a unanimous All-American and The Associated Press' player of the year.

The challenge for both will be how Mariota adapts from the spread offense he ran at Oregon with the Ducks to what Whisenhunt will devise and call with the Titans. Mariota threw for 4,454 yards and 42 TDs - third in the Football Bowl Subdivision - and also ran for 770 yards and 15 TDs last season.

''I think we'll find a happy medium of what he's comfortable with and things we can press him on and push him, and we've got a lot of reps that we'll have a chance to work on,'' Whisenhunt said.



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