TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: QUARTERBACKS
In camp (3): Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, Logan Woodside.
Offseason developments: Mariota added some weight to his 6-foot-4 frame, and he returned to good health after ending last season with lingering elbow issues related to a nerve injury. Mariota looked mostly solid during offseason work as he practiced with some new faces around him. Just last week Mariota gathered several of the team’s receivers for throwing sessions in Los Angeles, as the group developed further chemistry. The Titans traded for quarterback Ryan Tannehill back in March, and GM Jon Robinson and HC Mike Vrabel stressed from Day 1 the former Dolphins starter was acquired to be the back-up. The team parted ways with Austin Davis, and brought back Logan Woodside, who spent the first part of the offseason playing in the Alliance of American Football League.
In the spotlight: Mariota. Heading into the final year of his contract, Mariota wants to prove he can stay healthy while guiding the Titans back into the playoffs. In 2019, he’ll be working with yet another play-caller after the team promoted Arthur Smith to offensive coordinator when Matt LaFleur left to take the head coaching position with the Green Bay Packers. Mariota’s numbers in 2018 – 2,528 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, 8 interceptions – were the lowest of his four-year career. With new additions like veteran receiver Adam Humphries and second-round draft pick A.J. Brown, not to mention the return of tight end Delanie Walker, Mariota is in a position to be more successful.
Battle to watch: Logan Woodside vs. Someone Else?: I’m not going to list Mariota vs. Tannehill as a battle to watch because of what I mentioned earlier – Robinson and Vrabel have made it clear the quarterbacks aren’t competing for the starting spot. So at this point, Mariota is working to make himself better, and Tannehill is working to be ready in the event he’s needed. At this point, the biggest question is whether Woodside can do enough to convince his bosses he’s worth keeping around as the No.3 QB. Vrabel seems to like Woodside, who spent time with the team last season. If he performs well, then it might keep the decision-makers from eyeing other QBs who are currently available or who could shake free when roster cuts are made across the league.
Keep an eye on: Mariota and Arthur Smith. It’s been so far, so good for Mariota and Smith, formerly the team’s tight ends coach. All indications are the two men are on same page as they prepare for the regular season, but training camp and preseason games will provide their biggest tests to date. The Titans want the play-calling process to be smooth as the September 8 opener against the Cleveland Browns draws closer, and you can be sure Vrabel will do his best to put them in more stressful situations in July and August.
Next up: Running backs.
Titans Online looks back at QB Marcus Mariota's 2018 season. (AP Photos)
TitansOnline.com looks back at the NFL career of veteran QB Ryan Tannehill, who was acquired by the Titans in a trade with the Miami Dolphins. (AP Photos)