NASHVILLE – Marcus Mariota showed up for the first day of the offseason program on Monday rested, and rejuvenated.
The Titans quarterback, who spent most his offseason back home in Hawaii, got away from football, by design – for his mental and physical health. He also added some weight to his 6-foot-4 frame, also by design.
Now he’s ready to turn his sights to the 2019 season.
“It is exciting to be back in the building,” Mariota said. “Some new faces, but it’s always a good time to be able to come back, get ready to go. I am looking forward to it.”
Mariota said he’s a little bit heavier, and he looks it. He didn’t provide any specifics, only replying “something in that range” when asked if his weight gain was in the “5-to-10” pound range.
Mariota, who was listed at 222 pounds last season, said he wanted to add bulk to help him with his durability. Mariota said he focused on his diet to add “good weight,” while also on his training regiment. He said he could add additional weight as long as he can continue to feel comfortable on the practice field.
His plan this offseason was to get healthy. Now, his plan is to stay healthy.
“I think when it comes down to it, just being able to absorb the hits, being able to be healthy for a full ... year,” Mariota said. “Those things haven’t really happened yet. So I am doing my best to be able to be on the front of it, and allow myself the opportunity to play all 16.”
Physically, Mariota is feeling good, he said. He threw some passes to tight end Delanie Walker on Monday. Last week, Mariota organized throwing sessions with at least seven of his teammates at a football field in Nashville.
“I am feeling better,” Mariota said. “I don’t know an exact number (percentage-wise), but I am pretty close to being fully healthy, and as every single day goes on, we have a plan to get more and more healthy. I think this athletic training staff has done a great job and I look forward to continuing to work with them.
“I (don’t) necessarily have limitations – just trying to be smart. If there is something that is lingering or something doesn’t feel right, just being able to communicate with everybody.”
Mariota started 13 of the team’s 16 games in 2018, and he played in 14 of 16. He finished the year with 2,528 passing yards with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He set the franchise record with a completion percentage of 68.9 %.
In his first four NFL seasons, Mariota has played in 58 of a possible 66 games, with 57 starts.
Mariota on Monday said he’s looking forward to working with new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, the team’s tight ends coach last season. He already has several new teammates on offense, from receiver Adam Humphries to guard Rodger Saffold to back-up quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
As a team, the Titans want to go from good to great after finishing 9-7 in each of the past three seasons.
“Really, it just starts off with trust,” Mariota said. “Coach (Mike) Vrabel talked about it a lot today, just being able to trust one another, trust the coaches, and trust what is going on in the process. And from there, just go out there and play. We had an opportunity to get in the playoffs (last year) – we were in it a couple of years ago.
“If we just take our time and trust each other, build off what we’ve already done, I think we’ll have a chance.”
Mariota said his time away in Hawaii “was very important to me.” Now, he’s ready to do his part.
In previous offseasons, Mariota split time between Hawaii, Oregon, California and Nashville.
“It was nice to be home with family and friends, it was nice to really not do anything for a little bit,” Mariota said. “It gave me an opportunity to get healthy, it gave me an opportunity to catch up with old friends, just sit down and have conversations with your family. During the season it is such a hustle and bustle, you don’t really get time to spent quality time. … So it was nice to be home, and it was well needed.
“It is different. It is kind of strange. I’ve always kind of been one of those guys where you are in the weight room the next week, there is no really time off. So it was different for me to take a step back and take some time for me to get healthy and really just kind of focus on getting my body right. I thought it was well needed. What I was able to do when I got home I was able to accomplish and I feel good now.”
Titans Online looks back at QB Marcus Mariota's 2018 season. (AP Photos)