The countdown to training camp is officially on for the Tennessee Titans, and as we inch closer we will profile each position on the roster…starting with the quarterbacks.
Health is the number one concern for Tennessee’s signal callers as training camp approaches. Both Marcus Mariota (fibula) and backup Matt Cassel (thumb) are recovering from injuries, but they should both be ready to go next month.
Mariota’s recovery from a gruesome season-ending injury last December has gone much better than expected. He even made spot appearances throwing at OTAs during seven on seven drills.
The last hurdle is planting his right foot into the ground and cutting, an attribute that made him a dangerous dual-threat weapon throughout his playing career.
Last season Mariota amassed 349 yards rushing, with two runs of 20 plus yards and two touchdowns on the ground. In his professional career Mariota has run for over 600 yards with four touchdowns.
Just as important, he has accounted for 29 first downs with his feet since joining the Titans, and nearly doubled his totals from year one (10) to year two (19). A valuable asset in terms of time of possession and overall scoring on offense.
Given that level of productivity it would be hard to imagine Tennessee pulling the reigns back on Mariota tucking the ball and running, however, it would be equally hard to imagine the Titans exposing Mariota to unnecessary hits until the games actually count.
Look for Mariota to be eased back into the swing of things because the franchise’s playoff hopes are directly tied to his health and production.
Backup Matt Cassel is no threat to run, which makes his recovering thumb injury more of a concern…especially since he was originally slated to carry the bulk of the first team reps while Mariota was eased back into action.
If Cassel’s thumb injury lingers into camp and beyond, then it would not be out of question for general manager Jon Robinson to look for veteran options elsewhere as a precautionary measure.
Third string qb Alex Tanney could take center stage if the top two on the depth chart aren’t quite ready by the end of next month. And while Mariota’s job is certainly safe, the same may not be said for Cassel. If Tanney gets an extended run with the first team during training camp and does well, then you could see a fierce battle for the backup job during the preseason.
Up next…the running back position…