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Six Hot Topics With Titans Coach Mike Mularkey

Posted Oct 17, 2017

TitansOnline.com Senior Writer and Editor Jim Wyatt offers six hot topics from head coach Mike Mularkey's Tuesday conference call.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans coach Mike Mularkey chatted with reporters on a conference call on Tuesday, one day after the team’s 36-22 win over the Colts.

Here’s a look at six hot topics:

Mariota’s Toughness

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota made it through Monday’s game without any issues, Mularkey said.

Mariota completed 23-of-32 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown after missing the previous week’s game with a hamstring injury.

“No setbacks today,” Mularkey said of Mariota. “We’re just going to watch him in practices this week. It’s going to be a lighter load because of the Monday night game.”

Mularkey praised Mariota for his ability to play through the injury, and his toughness.

“That’s the locker room,” Mularkey said. “Nobody likes being injured and the quarterback is obviously very competitive, and he didn’t like that he had to sit out the Miami game.

“But it shows the makeup of our team. We have a lot of guys who are tough and dependable, and that’s a great example, our quarterback.”

Improved defense

The Titans clamped down on the defensive side of the ball in the second half, when the Titans outscored the Colts 28-9, and by a 21-3 score in the fourth quarter.

Mularkey sat in on defensive meetings at the half, when adjustments were made.

“I sat with the defense, was in the defensive part while adjustments were going on,” Mularkey said. “We did some things in there to try and stop especially the runs – they were hitting us for big gains.

“What we did better in the second half was force them into more third downs and I don’t think they converted any of them.”

Mularkey complimented the play of cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Adoree’ Jackson, and safety Kevin Byard.

Linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who recovered a fumble and had a key fourth down stop late, played well once again, Mularkey said.

“He has really been outstanding,” Mularkey said of Woodyard. “It seems like we talk about him every week. It’s not surprising, not the way he works, and the way he prepares. He’s a true pro. If you want to figure out how to do it, watch him.”

RB rotation

Running back Derrick Henry rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while Murray gained 40 yards on 12 carries.

Mularkey said the Titans will continue to utilize both backs. He said Henry is beginning to establish himself as a big key in the fourth quarter of games.

“That’s probably been the case of late, when we go into a four-minute,” Mularkey said of Henry. “He’s probably a little fresher from not taking a lot of snaps.

“But I really like how it has played out with percentages and how these guys (get along). I mean, the first guy down to congratulate (Derrick) on his touchdown was DeMarco Murray, and it shows what kind of players we have in the locker room.”

Kickoff coverage

The Titans are ranked 31st in the NFL in kickoff coverage.

On Monday night, Colts return man Quan Bray returned a kick 60 yards.

Mularkey said it’s an area that needs to improve.

“I’m a little disappointed in that,” Mularkey said. “We have a lot of good players on that unit. The one way to improve is to be where they are supposed to be, and we’re going to have a discussion about that tomorrow.

“We have a lot of guys trying to do too much, and not doing what they are supposed to do. We are getting gashed because of it and that will be a discussion tomorrow for sure.”

Davis, Cyprien out

Receiver Corey Davis and safety Johnathan Cyprien aren’t expected to play this week against the Browns.

Davis has been sidelined since Week Two, while Cyprien hasn’t played since the season opener. Both players are dealing with hamstring injuries.

“Probably a no-go for this week again,” Mularkey said of the pair, “especially for being a shorter week.”

Other injuries

Linebacker Derrick Morgan is “day to day” because of an abdominal strain he suffered against the Colts.

“We’ll know more tomorrow when he gets back in,” Mularkey said of Morgan.

Murray dealt with hamstring tightness, but played through the game.