The veterans will join the rookies on the field in a few days when the Tennessee Titans begin their Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Tuesday.
One notable veteran is not only rumored to be in attendance, but also rumored to participate in some form or fashion….
Quarterback Marcus Mariota.
As reported by ESPN Staff Writer Paul Kuharsky, Tennessee is looking to get their rehabbing franchise qb some work in with the receivers while keeping his healing right fibula safe from harm.
But is that a wise move?
According to head coach Mike Mularkey it is. His quote from Kuharsky’s article…
“We’re going to do some things that he’s going to be able to practice, do some things that aren’t going to subject him to being at risk. We may do more 7-on-7s than we’ve ever done, things like that to try to help him out.”
Um…I’m not sure about that.
Yes, coach Mularkey and general manager Jon Robinson has earned the benefit of the doubt after pushing all the right buttons and making all the right moves so far since taking over last season. And yes, 7-on-7 drills do not include offensive and defensive linemen tussling around Mariota. But I still disagree with this move.
For a few reasons.
For starters, with or without a pass rush, Mariota will still put pressure on his lower extremities by participating. He broke his right fibula on December 24th…his plant foot when throwing passes. Throwing the ball with the right mechanics and with velocity could potentially put unnecessary stress on his healing leg.
Remember, Mariota hasn’t even begun to run full speed as of last week.
In addition, the primary receiver to build chemistry with is also gimpy right now. First round pick Corey Davis is still recovering from his own ankle injury, and wasn’t at full speed during last week’s rookie camp.
To date, Davis hasn’t been cleared for full throttle action next week either, so would the risk be worth the reward this early with both players at less than 100 percent?
I know that optimism for a division title is as high as it’s been in years after last season’s remarkable turnaround, but we have to remember that this is still a rebuilding process for a team that won just five games combined in 2014 and 2015.
And a setback to Mariota would bring that process to a screeching halt should something go wrong during OTAs.
The Titans are a young team that’s building something special, they are building to contend for division titles for the next several years. Why jeopardize that to get some early reps in when Mariota clearly showed last season that he is in full command of Mularkey’s offense?
Holding Mariota out until training camp as previously planned is not the end of the world, and it’s certainly not a death-nail for a season full of promise. He is not a rookie anymore, he will be entering his third season and from all accounts, he appears to be the type of player that will stay in the playbook and film room while rehabbing.
He will also have the benefit of a full preseason to knock off the rust and gain chemistry with the new receivers.
It would be great to see Mariota throwing bombs downfield to his new array of weapons during OTAs, but I’d much rather see him doing it 100 percent healthy in the season opener against the Oakland Raiders.
Mariota is not an unknown commodity. He is not fighting to prove anything to the organization or his teammates, and he is not fighting to keep his job.
He should sit this one out and focus on being ready for the regular season.