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Marcus Mariota's move from signal cards to verbal calls underway for Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As recently as Jan. 12, Marcus Mariota was looking to the Oregon Ducks sideline and finding a play out of a coded message hidden in giant sideline picture cards.

Play calls were all signals.

Now no one is holding up pictures of the SportsCenter logo, Jon Gruden's mug or LeBron James' face on the sideline at Tennessee Titans headquarters.

The transition to verbal play calls is well underway for Mariota, who will now be hearing a coach in his helmet speaker and taking the call to the huddle.

Commanding the huddle right now amounts to “just being able to articulate the play,” Mariota said Tuesday after the first of 10 spring OTA practices for the Titans.

“If you’re kind of stuttering and stumbling over the play or the coach has to correct you, the older guys are going to kind of look at you and not respect that,” Mariota said.

He feels like he’s doing pretty well with it so far, though some play calls do get long. Every night he reads them over to ensure he’s gaining comfort calling them.

I asked Ken Whisenhunt what the longest play call Mariota will have to make is.

The coach silently mouthed a call to himself while counting by touching his thumb to each of his fingers before settling on 10 or 11.

Mariota has a wristband to help him translate things.

As he works his way from spread option into pro-style offense, he's covering subject matter a player such as Andrew Luck never dealt with early in his days as a rookie.

As Mariota shows he can take snaps under center, run a huddle and make play calls, a lot of these questions might fade away.