Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota got a nice 25th birthday present on Tuesday as he practiced without the half glove that he used to help the him grip the football following his nerve injury in his elbow in the season opener in Miami.
“Yes. I’ve been able to practice with it (the hand without the glove). It feels good. It feels better,” Mariota said.
Mariota also said that the feeling has come back in his fingers and hand, which has allowed him to shed the glove.
Through seven games, Mariota has just three touchdown passes and has thrown five interceptions – two of which came on back-to-back plays against the Dolphins right after he injured the elbow.
Mariota said he hopes the Titans can improve their red zone efficiency, something that has been a major problem this season. Tennessee is 29th in the NFL with only a 43.25 percent red zone rating.
“Red zone efficiency. If we get down there, it’s being able to score touchdowns and not kick field goals. When you have an opportunity to get points, I think it’s important that we take care of the football and make sure we score touchdowns,” Mariota said. “On top of that, I think being efficient on third down, especially in the red zone area. There are times where we have a good drive going and we get stopped on third down in the red zone area and we’re not able to convert and score touchdowns.”
Certainly, not all the Titans' pass game woes fall on Mariota, as his wide receivers have been inconsistent at times and downright ineffective at others. The Titans opted not to add a receiver at the trade deadline, even though veterans Demaryius Thomas (from Denver to Houston) and Golden Tate (from Detroit to Philadelphia) both changed teams.
The Titans instead will just have to get better results from the players they have going forward. Asked about the problems in scoring points, Mariota said the Titans simply have to be better.
“I think it’s execution. When it comes down to it, third downs, we haven’t been very good down there. Making plays really, we haven’t been very good down there,” he said. “Yes, I give credit to the defense that we’ve played. They’ve found ways to hold us out of the end zone. For what it’s worth, that’s what it is. We have to find ways to improve and get better.”