Why Marcus Mariota was up and down in the red zone

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For a quarterback, 7-on-7 work is supposed to be easier than 11-on-11 drills. There is no pass rush. There is no crowd to see over or around. Receivers should win matchups and provide open targets.

But in the Tennessee Titans' Monday night practice it didn't work that way for Marcus Mariota during red zone work.

In a 7-on-7 drill, he hit Bishop Sankey and then missed on three throws in a row: He missed Hakeem Nicks in the end zone, threw out of bounds to a well-covered Kendall Wright in the back right corner of the end zone and threw a bad pass I think was aimed for Harry Douglas but might have been intended for Delanie Walker behind him.

But in the full team red zone period that followed, Mariota's fuse got re-lit.

A dump off to tight end Craig Stevens created a chance for him to bounce into the end zone. A slant to Douglas for a touchdown. A hard roll out to the right and a dart to Wright at the front corner of the end zone.

Why the trouble in 7-on-7and then the solid play in team?

“Some of that may have been coverage generated,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “They’re playing off, sometime in 7-on-7, instead of taking the underneath, you want to make a play. Especially on a night like this, there is a big crowd and you press a little bit.

“When you get into a team situation and it’s first down at the 20 and you get a 6- or 7-yard gain, those are important plays in the red zone. When you’re in the 7-on-7, those feel like, ‘OK, whatever.’ So you want to try to make those [bigger] plays, it was a little bit of that, I think.”