Tennessee Titans quarterback and 2015 second overall pick Marcus Mariota told NFL Media on June 24 that missing training camp next month is "the furthest thing from my mind."
Despite being the only unsigned first-round draft choice, quarterback Marcus Mariota has no plans of skipping training camp with the Tennessee Titans.
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With Mariota's status, Titans general manager Ruston Webster said it wouldn't be much of an issue if he missed several days of training camp late next month. However, Mariota told NFL Media's Tiffany Blackmon (via NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal) at the NFL Rookie Symposium on June 24 this will not be an option:
"It's the furthest thing from my mind. My agent is going to do his job. He's going to do whatever it takes. It's a business deal; it takes some time. I'm happy to be part of the organization and I'm sure it will work out."
When Blackmon asked Mariota if skipping a few days of training camp will impede his progress, he said a decision like that is a "long ways off," per Rosenthal.
The Tennesseean's John Glennon wrote on Wednesday the Titans plan to utilize Mariota's running skills (he ran the 40-yard dash in the NFL combine in February in 4.52 seconds), but will need to be cautious so he won't be prone to any career-threatening injuries.
Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt told Glennon it's all about being smart about how the prized quarterback will be used:
"The league does a good job trying to protect quarterbacks, but any time a quarterback takes off with the ball there's a risk. Then again, anytime anyone has the ball there's a risk, so I don't think you can get too caught up in it.
"You just have to be smart. Obviously you don't want him having 30 carries a game because then you really increase that risk.
"There will be (designed) opportunities, but there will also be a lot of opportunities, just like with Russell Wilson, when the play breaks down and he runs with the ball and extends the play."
Glennon stresses new Titans center Fernando Velasco knows the value of a rushing quarterback. Velasco played last season with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who rushed for 539 yards and five touchdowns in 2014.
Velasco told The Tennessean a rushing quarterback is of immense value because he can throw opposing defenses off:
"A running quarterback keeps the defense guessing because they have to defend all 11 guys instead of 10 -- thinking the quarterback is just going to hand the ball off to the running back.
"So even if it's just keeping the backside outside linebacker honest and keeping the safety honest -- with the run-pass option -- then it's unbelievable how much of a benefit that can be."
However, the major disadvantage is the amount of hits a rushing quarterback takes.
Glennon cites ESPN stats when he points out Newton has taken a combined 531 quarterback sacks and hits over a four-year span. The disparity between Newton and second-placer Ryan Fitzpatrick (272), who's now with the New York Jets.
Mariota, who credits his ability to protect himself from massive hits to bodysurfing in beaches in Hawaii, remains unfazed. He told The Tennessean watching players like Wilson is a key part in his evolution as an NFL quarterback:
"You can learn a lot from the guys that are playing right now -- being able to save yourself, save a hit, different things like that. But again, designing runs will be up to Coach Whisenhunt and the rest of the offensive staff.
"I'll just do my best to execute whatever's asked."
In another development, The Tennesseean's Jim Wyatt reported on June 24 the Titans have reached a 20-year deal with Nissan North America to rename their home stadium as Nissan Stadium.
The Titans have called LP Field their home stadium since 2006. It will be known by its new name immediately, says Wyatt.
Prior to being known as LP Field, the Titans' downtown stadium in Nashville was called Adelphia Coliseum from 1999 to 2002. When Adelphia filed for bankruptcy, it was simply known as The Coliseum from 2002 to 2006, per The Tennesseean.
In spite of the stadium rebranding, the partnership between LP and the Titans remains, per Wyatt.
The Titans will square off against their AFC South rivals, the Indianapolis Colts, in their first game at Nissan Stadium on Sept. 27, per The Tenneseean.
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