Mariota knows turnovers crucial as Titans QB learns on fly
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Marcus Mariota knows he's trying to do too much at times to help the Tennessee Titans win, so much that he's had far too many turnovers already this season.
The second-year quarterback promises he's working as fast as possible to learn from his mistakes.
''There's certain situations that are new to me, I'm kind of experiencing on the fly,'' Mariota said Wednesday. ''That's part of this process for me. It's part of the process for any young player. I'll continue to learn and grow.''
Ball security was a focus this offseason for the quarterback taken No. 2 overall out of Oregon in 2015.
Mariota was intercepted 10 times and lost six fumbles in 12 games started as a rookie. Through three games this season, Mariota already has lost two fumbles and been intercepted four times.
Tennessee (1-2) is tied for last in the NFL, scoring just 14 points per game and has scored only one offensive touchdown in the first half through three games. That came in the second quarter of the season opener.
''Well, it's the turnovers, and that's on me and things that I can improve on,'' Mariota said. ''That's going to hurt our team no matter what happens or where it's going to be at. So if I do a better job taking care of the football, our team will be in better position.''
Only four quarterbacks have more interceptions than Mariota, whose four picks tie him with Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh, Houston's Brock Osweiler, Carson Palmer of Arizona, Baltimore's Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill of Miami.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey refuses to let Mariota take the blame for his turnovers alone. Mularkey said everybody's at fault, including coaches.
The Titans are working with the quarterback on better protecting the ball in practice, something they will keep doing until they get it right.
''This past game, we had some situations, I thought we could have made some plays on those balls,'' Mularkey said.
Mariota finally will play his first game Sunday against AFC South opponent Houston (2-1). The quarterback missed both games against the Texans as a rookie because of injury, and now he will play the defending divisional champ with J.J. Watt - the three-time Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year - out after re-injuring his back.
''Yeah, that's kind of weird now that you think about it,'' Mariota said of finally facing a division opponent in his second season. ''Again, you never want to see a guy go down, and you just wish him well.
Watt had 2+ sacks when the Texans sacked Zach Mettenberger seven times in a 20-6 win last season , and Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk fired coach Ken Whisenhunt two days later.
Texans coach Bill O'Brien said facing Mariota is a big challenge.
''When he gets out on the perimeter and he's able to use his skill as a runner, it's tough ...,'' O'Brien said. ''He's doing a good job throwing the ball from the pocket. He's definitely a dual-threat quarterback.''
Notes: Mularkey said WR Kendall Wright (left hamstring) practiced fully Wednesday, and the Titans are hoping he plays for the first time this season Sunday. TE Delanie Walker (right hamstring) was held out of practice as the Titans work to get him back on the field. Starting LG Quinton Spain (ankle) did not practice, and starting WR Tajae Sharpe (hamstring) was limited along with CB Cody Riggs (hamstring).
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