<
>

Here's what Marcus Mariota has to do to return for MNF

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Marcus Mariota took a simulated snap from under center, took a quick three-step drop and fired a 10-to-15-yard strike to receiver Eric Decker during drills at the start of practice. Even in this contained drill, Mariota looked closer to 100 percent than he has since suffering that hamstring injury in the first half of the Titans' Week 5 loss to the Texans.

Optimism is high from Mariota, Titans coach Mike Mularkey and the team that he will be able to return vs. the Colts if the quarterback continues to progress at the same pace. Mariota said he "absolutely" feels good about his chances, but there are still steps to clear to get confirmation.

The path for Mariota's return is centered around increasing his pocket mobility and his comfort to reach the right depths on his handoffs and throws. It seems more likely than not that he will progress enough in those areas to play.

Designed quarterback run plays would be either limited or eliminated if Mariota returned this week. The mobility requirement refers more to Mariota's natural movement in pocket to avoid being a statue. The Titans gave up six sacks against the Dolphins so he would need to prepare to adjust if the Colts go blitz-happy.

"You want to be able to go out there and not think about it. Just go out there and play," Mariota said. "Making sure my dropbacks, everything, within the pocket are good and I can move around and make some of those plays that are required."

Mariota appears more comfortable on the field this week, and spent the entire practice either participating or watching. Last week, Mariota would throw a few stationary passes to trainers before heading inside to do rehab for most of the remainder of the session.

As a quarterback, Mariota doesn't have to be 100-percent healthy to play but the Titans want to know that he can protect himself and not re-injure that hamstring.

Other injury notes: Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan didn't practice Wednesday, but Mularkey believes he will push to play Monday. Titans receiver Corey Davis (hamstring) will miss his fourth consecutive game. Mularkey wasn't ready to rule him out next week against Cleveland. Safety Johnathan Cyprien (hamstring) has been ruled out against the Colts and Browns. He's been out since Week 1 and is expected to make his return shortly after their Week 8 bye week.