NASHVILLE, Tenn. – During his first three NFL seasons, it was easy to set a clock on Marcus Mariota’s first entrance onto the playing field prior to kickoff.
The Titans quarterback regularly took the field – in uniform – roughly 50 minutes prior to games, and he’d take part in pregame drills with his teammates.
Prior to that, he prepared himself for games in the locker room, or out of sight, in the bowels of NFL stadiums.
But Mariota changed his pregame routine on Thursday night at Lambeau Field prior to the team’s preseason opener against the Packers.
Several hours before kickoff, Mariota took the field in a t-shirt and shorts. He did a stretching routine while warming up, moving around on the field and stretching on a goalpost. He threw the football to his teammates.
After heading into the locker room, Mariota later returned in full uniform roughly 50 minutes before kickoff against the Packers. That’s when the Titans began pregame work leading up to the contest.
Mariota said it’s the start of something new.
“I think it will probably be the start of a new routine,” Mariota said after the game. “It’s something that I had worked on in the offseason. It felt good, and I felt like I was ready to go. So I felt like I might as well try and implement it throughout the year and it went well today.”
Mariota played just one drive for the Titans, and he guided the team to a touchdown – a four-yard touchdown pass to receiver Darius Jennings.
Mariota finished the game 2-of-3 for 42 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for seven yards on his only carry of the night. His passer rating was 149.3.
Former Titans quarterbacks have approached pregame routines differently, going all the way back to Steve McNair. During his playing days, McNair usually took the field and warmed up with equipment manager Joey Barranco roughly three hours before a game, before going back to the locker room and taking a quick nap. He’d then return in uniform for pregame warmups closer to kickoffs.
Other Titans quarterbacks have warmed up on the field in t-shirts and shorts leading up to games, before making a return trip, in uniform, closer to kickoff.
“Part of it is loosening up, and also it is an opportunity to throw with the guys a little bit,” Mariota said. “It is always good to just see the guys catch the ball, throw the ball, just little things like that I think psychologically help.”
The Tennessee Titans open the 2018 preseason against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Titans prepare to take on the Green Bay Packers in the preseason opener for both teams Thursday night at Lambeau Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)