Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A new season, under a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and plenty of new teammates surrounding him.
Not to mention new uniforms.
It all starts on Thursday night for quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Titans, when they’ll face the Green Bay Packers in their preseason opener at Lambeau Field.
“I’m just happy I have the opportunity to go out and play,” Mariota said. “I get up for it. I’m looking forward to Thursday. I’m looking forward to seeing how all this work throughout training camp and throughout spring hopefully comes out and we’ll do well.
“This will be the first time I’m up there. Just being a former fan my whole life, just having the opportunity to play in such a historic place is going to be a lot of fun.”
After an offseason of learning and getting adjusted to a new offense, Mariota will have a chance to see where the offense is from a progress standpoint, while also being able to gauge where further improvements need to be made.
Since the start of OTAs, the offense has shown improvement. Still, on many days during training camp, the Titans defense has forced mistakes, and controlled periods in practice.
So what’s Mariota looking for on Thursday, when he’ll work with offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur for the first time in a game?
“Well, being efficient as an offense, if we can go out there and the operation is clean, we’re able to move the ball,” Mariota said. “Obviously, scoring points would be great. But getting in and out of the huddle, clean and crisp operations, getting plays in and out, getting personnel in and out. All of the little things that seem kind of natural in a game situation is going to be on us to make sure we clean that up throughout this preseason so when the season rolls around, it’s second nature.
“Getting back into the tempo of a game. Just making sure everything is clean and crisp.”
Titans coach Mike Vrabel hasn’t revealed how much starters might play in the preseason opener.
Under previous coaching regimes, starters played a series or two, and sometimes even into the second quarter of a first preseason game until they’re relieved by backups.
Mariota said he’ll be ready to play as long as needed.
In his first appearance since last year’s playoff loss at New England, he’s ready to go.
“It’s incredibly valuable,” he said. “For me, I approach each and every game like I’m playing it the full way through. I think when you have that mentality, it just gets you in the mood for the season. With that being said, I get competitive when it starts going. As much as they want us to play, as much as we can go out there and continue to build off of what we’ve already done, I’m all about it and can’t wait to do it.”