Cameron Wolfe, ESPN Staff Writer 19d

Titans being smart with Marcus Mariota, who isn't much closer to playing vs. Dolphins

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Marcus Mariota's hamstring injury has slightly improved over the past two days, but he isn't much closer to being given the go-ahead to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

Mariota was a limited participant in practice for the second straight day, throwing stationary passes in individual drills. He would be more of a pocket passer if he's able to play, but Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Mariota would "definitely" need to show mobility inside the pocket for safety and offensive effectiveness.

"He did a little more. Not a lot more, but a little more," Mularkey said describing Mariota's Thursday workload. “We're really being smart and listening to what he's saying about himself."

Mularkey used the phrase "we're being smart" a few times over the past two days in reference to Mariota's hamstring injury. Mariota hasn't tested his hamstring yet on the field outside of the stationary throws. Hamstrings tend to linger and the last thing the Titans want to do is prolong the injury or make it worse.

There hasn't been a setback, which is a positive, and Mariota didn't feel any pain.

Miami’s weekend forecast calls for a chance of rain, which could impact the decision, and mean the Titans lean on their running game.

If Mariota can't go Sunday, Matt Cassel will get the start. Cassel, 35, has run the Titans' first-team offense this week in practice.

Mularkey said he doesn't anticipate a situation in which Mariota would be an emergency backup quarterback, meaning he'd either start or be out. The Titans would consider suiting Mariota, Cassel and recently signed Brandon Weeden as a precaution if Mariota was able to play.

Mariota likely would be limited to playing as a pocket passer if he does play Sunday. The injury appears to be minor, so if Mariota has to miss the Dolphins game, he would have a much better chance to play against the Indianapolis Colts on Oct 16. Mularkey is willing to take this week's quarterback decision to Sunday.

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