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VOL. 41 | NO. 40 | Friday, October 06, 2017

Titans without Mariota are terrible

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Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota walks off the field after suffering a hamstring strain during the third quarter of his team’s 57-14 loss at Houston on Sunday. The Titans were outscored 27-0 in the second half with Matt Cassel playing in the absence of Mariota, who is expected to play this week at Miami.

-- Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle Via Ap

The Tennessee Titans season might have flashed right before their eyes this past Sunday.

And it had little to do with the 57-14 thrashing they took at the hands of the Houston Texans. Oh, for those who might not have seen it, it was every bit as bad as that score sounds in every facet of the game.

But that wasn’t the greatest cause for alarm – for this week and beyond. It was the fact that Marcus Mariota left the game at halftime with a strained hamstring, and seeing how the already-reeling Titans fared without him.

To be fair, Mariota wasn’t exactly tearing it up when he was on the field Sunday, having gone six of 10 with two costly interceptions.

But what transpired after that was a complete collapse, resulting in three more turnovers from backup quarterback Matt Cassel as the Titans were outscored 27-0 in the second half on their way to being completely blown out.

It was so bad the Titans this week signed previously unemployed quarterback Brandon Weeden, who has played for the Browns, Cowboys and Texans since being drafted by the Browns in 2012. He hasn’t played in a game since 2015.

The news on Mariota this week was probably about as good as could be expected.

He was diagnosed with a mild hamstring strain, and might even have a chance to play this Sunday at Miami, if he can be a quick healer and not risk any further damage to his leg.

When asked to compare the severity of the injury to other Titans’ plagued by hamstring problems this season, Coach Mike Mularkey pointed out that Mariota’s hamstring strain is much more akin to the one DeMarco Murray had in week two than the ones suffered by receiver Corey Davis and safety Johnathan Cyprien, who are both still out of the lineup.

Murray, on the other hand, after getting half the Jacksonville game and two practices off, was back and rolling with his best effort of the season two weeks ago against the Seahawks.

As if they didn’t already know from the five games Mariota has missed with injuries in his first two NFL seasons, every hope the Titans have of competing in the AFC South and making the playoffs hinges on No. 8 somehow staying upright and on the field.

“I’ll say this about all these guys with a variety of injuries, but the hamstring, each guy is different,” Mularkey says.

“You treat it like DeMarco, one week had the same, very similar little bit of a strain in it, and the next we kind of watched him throughout the week of practice, then he came back and played well.

“Again, we’re going to take it day-by-day with Marcus, make sure we’re smart with it.”

Of course, there are a couple of variables that go along with that rest, rehab and determination of when Mariota will be able to go – whether it is this Sunday in Miami or Oct. 16 on Monday Night Football against the Colts or whenever.

He has to be honest with himself and with team trainers, so as not to return too soon and subject himself to re-injury.

And given that Mariota’s running is an integral part of his game, the Titans must monitor that part of things, as well.

The question on whether Mariota plays this week could go right up until 90 minutes before game time when teams have to declare their inactives.

But the question of where the Titans end up without Mariota isn’t an answer the team or the fans are going to like.

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com

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