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Titans expect to have Mariota’s services

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The good news for the Tennessee Titans is that quarterback Marcus Mariota should be back practicing this week and playing when the team travels to face the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.

The question is can the Titans keep Mariota in one piece, after Zach Mettenberger was shredded for seven sacks and seven more quarterback hits in Sunday’s 20-6 loss to the Houston Texans.

Mariota could provide a needed spark for a team that has lost six in a row and is averaging a whopping nine points a game over the four games after its bye week.

“It will help. He’s a good player. He brings a different element to the position and that can help,” Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Anytime you get your starter back, that’s always an emotional spark I think.”

Of course, the Titans must do a better job in protection, no matter who lines up under center on Sunday against the Saints. There are even those who question the thought process of putting the team’s prized rookie quarterback behind such a porous offensive line that has allowed 28 sacks in seven games. But Whisenhunt apparently has no such qualms.

“I think we did a better job (of protecting) last week against Atlanta. We had a setback yesterday in Houston, but we’ll look to do a better job of that,” Whisenhunt said. “Marcus does a good job in there of understanding you can do some different things, like moving the pocket and moving around to help compensate for that.”

Even the offensive line knows that games like Sunday where Mettenberger took a beating cannot happen again.

“He took some shots in that game that he has no business taking,” Bell said of Mettenberger.

REPORT CARD VS. TEXANS

PASSING OFFENSE: F. Zach Mettenberger was sacked seven times and hit seven more, as the Titans had no clue how to stop the Houston Texans pass rush. Mettenberger also threw an interception and lost a fumble on one of the sacks. J.J. Watt was credited with 2.5 sacks and nine hits on the Titans backup quarterback, who somehow played a full game and was not injured despite the pounding.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C. At least they tried to make an honest attempt to run the football this week. After having only 16 rushes a week ago, the Titans gave Antonio Andrews that many carries on Sunday and the second-year undrafted free agent responded with 64 yards on the ground. It’s not great, but it was good in comparison to the passing game and protection.

PASS DEFENSE: C. The Titans really didn’t play that bad on Sunday, except they were burned for two touchdown passes by Brian Hoyer, who beat them for the second straight time. The problem, of course, is that the offense is so bad, that any mistakes made by the defense are going to hurt all the more.

RUSH DEFENSE: A. The Titans took advantage of the fact that the Texans were without Arian Foster, holding Houston to just 56 yards rushing on the day. But the Texans didn’t really need to run it all that much as their defense forced two turnovers and Hoyer threw two TD passes. All in all, the Titans wasted a pretty good defensive effort.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D. Ryan Succop accounted for all of the points on two field goals and he remains perfect on the season in seven attempts. Punter Brett Kern continued his solid season, but a lost fumble on a kickoff return and another muff that caused terrible field position brings this grade way down.

COACHING: F. Ken Whisenhunt is now 3-20 as the Titans head coach, and his offense is averaging nine points a game over the last four weeks. The Titans allowed seven sacks Sunday and even left J.J. Watt singled blocked too many times on Sunday. Inexplicable.


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