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Six Hot Topics From Presser with Titans Coach Mike Mularkey

Posted Dec 4, 2017

Titans Online.com Senior Writer and Editor Jim Wyatt offers six hot topics from head coach Mike Mularkey's press conference.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans coach Mike Mularkey met with reporters on Monday at Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after the team’s 24-13 win over the Texans.

This Sunday, the Titans will face the Cardinals in Arizona.

Here’s a look at six hot topics:

Matthews update

Titans receiver Rishard Matthews missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury on Sunday, but it sounds like he’s on the verge of returning.

“We’ll work him out tomorrow,” Mularkey said of Matthews. “He’ll probably be day-to-day, but we’re anticipating him being back, hopefully.”

Matthews ranks second on the team in catches (41) and receiving yards (626).

Matthews leads the team with a 15.6-yard average per catch, and three touchdown receptions.

“We’ve had some big plays with Rishard,” Mularkey said. “So (getting him back) will help.”

Mariota review

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 15-of-23 passes for 150 yards against the Texans, with a touchdown pass, and a TD run.

Mariota connected with tight end Delanie Walker on a 24-yard score. Mariota’s nine-yard scoring sprint was his third rushing touchdowns in two games against the Texans this season.

Mariota’s passer rating against the Texans on Sunday: 98.1.

“Very good (day),” Mularkey said of Mariota. “He took what the defense allowed him to take. He got us into all the right runs. … The run for the touchdown. The throwaways, when there wasn’t anything there. 

“All things that helped us win yesterday.”

DaQuan Jones to IR. Who steps up?

Titans defensive lineman DaQuan Jones will have surgery on the torn biceps he suffered in Sunday’s game, and he’s headed to Injured Reserve.

Jones recorded 3.5 sacks in the previous two games before suffering what Mularkey called a “freak” injury.

“These last two games, for sure the best two games he’s played this year back-to-back,” Mularkey said of Jones. “With the sack number, and being really disruptive up front. I am really disappointed to see him get injured like he did.”

With Jones out for the season, Mularkey said he expects defensive linemen Austin Johnson and David King to step up.

“We have a pretty good rotation,” Mularkey said. “David King has been on the inactive (list) for however many weeks, and if we were playing today, he’d be up and be in that rotation.

“I don’t think (Austin) gets credit for what he does production-wise for the number of snaps he plays a game. He doesn’t have the numbers that DaQuan or Jurrell (Casey) have, maybe not even (Karl) Klug. But Austin has done a pretty good job when he’s had his opportunities, and that’s a good thing for us.”

Luke Stocker’s role?

The Titans signed veteran tight end Luke Stocker on Monday.

Stocker (6-5, 253) is currently in his seventh NFL season after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He has 80 games of NFL experience, including 56 starts, all with the Bucs. For his career, he has totaled 52 receptions for 400 yards and three touchdowns.

Stocker was waived by Tampa Bay last week. A three-year starter and captain at the University of Tennessee, Stocker recorded 85 receptions for 956 yards and eight touchdowns during his college career.

“(His) versatility is what we like,” Mularkey said. “He can block the point, he can move, he can line up in the backfield as a fullback. He does have some special teams value as well. There’s a lot of things he can do for you – and he has a lot of game experience.

“He just gives us another option.”

Mularkey said fullback Jalston Fowler, inactive the past two weeks, still has a role on the team.

Other Injuries

Tight end Delanie Walker (ankle) will also be day-to-day, and will be monitored during the week.

Cornerback Logan Ryan (concussion protocol) will be monitored during the week as well. Linebacker Derrick Morgan (knee sprain) and defensive lineman Sly Williams (ankle) were also injured against the Texans.

“We had a few bumps and bruises in that one,” Mularkey said. “It was a physical game.”

West Coast trip

The Titans will travel to Arizona on Friday, ahead of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.

After the game, the Titans plan to stay on the Phoenix area, where they'lll practice for a week leading up to the Dec. 17 contest against the 49ers.

“We went over logistics this morning to get it out of the way, so when we come back in here Wednesday there is no more talking travel, lodging, meals, all that stuff -- it is all about the Cardinals,” Mularkey said. “We’ll talk about next week as next week approaches, but this week it is all about the Cardinals.”

Mularkey said the Titans felt their best plan for the week included staying in Arizona to practice, rather than returning to Nashville and potentially be forced to practice indoors on the turf because of the weather.

Titans Tidbits

• Mularkey praised the play of cornerback LeShaun Sims, who had a key interception late. Mularkey said he likes the length Sims has in defending bigger receivers like Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins.

• Mularkey said tight end Jonnu Smith was singled out in a team meeting on Monday for his job as a blocker in Sunday’s game.

• Mularkey said receiver Corey Davis continues to make progress as a route runner, and in the blocking game.

• Mularkey said Walker’s relentless effort is contagious, and he sets a good example for his teammates.