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Six Hot Topics from Titans Coach Mike Mularkey

Posted Nov 13, 2017

TitansOnline.com Senior Writer and Editor Jim Wyatt offers six hot topics from head coach Mike Mularkey's Monday media availability.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans coach Mike Mularkey chatted with reporters on a conference call on Monday, one day after the team’s 24-20 win over the Bengals.

On Thursday, the Titans travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers.

Here’s a look at six hot topics:

Mariota status

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota had a hard landing when tackled from behind by Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap in the closing moments of Sunday’s game. 

But Mariota didn’t miss a snap. In fact, he threw the game-winning touchdown pass to running back DeMarco Murray just a few plays later.

On Monday, Mularkey said Mariota is dealing with a sore shoulder and mild ankle sprain, but he’s expected to play against the Steelers.

“We had him checked out medically by our staff,” Mularkey said of Mariota. “The way we are going to practice this week – I’ll have to see how he goes through the walkthrough tonight – but he’ll be taking all the reps tonight.

“We had him thoroughly checked out.”

Mularkey was asked if Mariota went through a concussion check. 

“No,” Mularkey said. “He didn’t have to. We did everything we could to check everything out to make sure he was fine. We do that with every player that gets injured during the game.”

Delanie Walker, and other injuries

Tight end Delanie Walker suffered a wrist injury late in the game on Sunday, “but he should be fine as well for this game,” Mularkey said.

Mularkey wasn’t happy with the end zone hit on Walker, however, which occurred after the ball was knocked away and out of his reach.

“To me, any time you hit a defenseless player it is malicious,” Mularkey said. “He was defenseless. The defender knew he didn’t have the ball, and it’s like a free shot. We are trying to protect players – that’s all we keep talking about, and then that happens.

“At some point, that will be addressed at the owners meetings. We have to do something about it. If we really want to protect them, we need to start throwing the flag on those plays.”

There’s a chance guard Quinton Spain could return on Thursday after missing the previous two games with turf toe.

Mularkey said anticipates Spain being a full participant in practice on Tuesday.

Corey Davis talk

Titans receiver Corey Davis caught four passes for 48 yards on Sunday. He was targeted a team-high 10 times.

Davis lost the football as he neared the goal line, however, which resulted in a touchback instead of a touchdown.

Mularkey said “every game is going to be a great learning experience for” Davis. 

In his second game back from a hamstring injury, Davis played 78 of the team’s 90 snaps on offense vs. the Bengals.

“I think he did a little better than he did his first game (back), but he still has some things to clean up,” Mularkey said of Davis. “He took a lot of reps, and … the work he is getting is just going to help him be a better player with the experience.”

Red zone success

At the bye, the Titans were 31st in the NFL in red zone offense.

In the last two games, the Titans are 6-of-6, including three more touchdowns against the Bengals. 

The Titans are now ranked 10th in the NFL in red zone offense.

“It’s just execution by everybody,” Mularkey said of the success. “It is just amazing, the proof is in the tape that when we get all guys operating and doing their job efficiently – not just in the red zone, but putting drives together for scores. It has been very easy for us to teach off of game tape. 

“They have been really efficient down in the red zone, not making very many mistakes. And then making plays when we have to make plays down there.”

Watching Adoree’

Rookie Adoree’ Jackson was all over the field on Sunday for the Titans, playing on offense, defense and on special teams.

Jackson played 49 of the team’s 51 snaps on defense, as well as seven snaps on offense, where he had three carries for 30 yards. Jackson also returned punts and kicks.

Mularkey said the Titans will be careful with how they use him.

“We’re not going to overwork him on both sides by any means,” Mularkey said.

Mularkey said Jackson “loves football” and welcomes opportunities, however.

“He likes the opportunities to make plays,” Mularkey said. “We have included him; he hasn’t asked for more. We have gone to him and said we have an idea here or there to get you involved. He is very smart, and been able to handle everything he has to handle. But we are not going to overload him, I promise that.”

Facing the Steelers

Pittsburgh is ranked second in the NFL on defense, and 10th on offense.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 2,298 yards and 12 touchdowns, while running back Le’Veon Bell has 840 yards and five touchdowns through nine games. Receiver Antonio Brown has 882 yards and three touchdowns on 60 receptions.

“A lot of explosive players offensively – leading rusher, leading pass receiver,” Mularkey said of the Steelers. “The quarterback is playing very good. It’s a physical offensive line. (We) know the defense pretty well, and they’re No.2 in the NFL right now. Their pass defense is their rush – you have to block these guys. They have a complicated scheme like we do.

“We have our hands full coming.’’