Speaking for the last time before taking his first snaps in an NFL preseason game Friday night, Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota maintained the calm that defines him.
He said he’s excited to make his preseason debut -- at the Georgia Dome against the Atlanta Falcons -- and echoed one theme he offered before his first training camp practice: He's about to have a dream come true.
His goals are simple.
“It’s being able to execute what’s been going on here in training camp,” he told reporters in Nashville after practice Wednesday. “Getting first downs, building a rhythm, scoring points is always a goal. Just taking what the coaches have installed, and hopefully applying it on the field and being successful at it.”
The Titans run a 3-4 defense, so Atlanta will provide Tennessee’s offense with its first look at a 4-3 front. He’ll get hit for the first time since Oregon lost the national championship game.
Mariota’s parents will be at the game, and friends back in Hawaii will be able to watch the game as the Titans preseason broadcasts are being picked up there.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he and the staff have not decided how much to play Mariota and the first-team offense, but that they need to measure their eagerness to see him against the need to play a lot of younger guys fighting for roster spots.
His expectation for Mariota is for him to show the composure and control he’s shown in two weeks of practices.
He’s completed 117 of 186 passes in 7-on-7 and full team work and has not thrown an interception.
“This’ll be a different arena when you get out on the field,” Whisenhunt said. “I mean, look, he’s played at a high level, played in a lot of games. It’s not that. It’s just doing it now in a different environment where he has different responsibilities. Where he’s got to take the snap under center, he has to communicate the play in a huddle.
“You can’t get the do-over again like you can in practice. So all of those things are important in the progression and development. But I think he’ll do OK.”