A right elbow injury forced Marcus Mariota to sit out the Tennessee Titans’ win against the Houston Texans on Sept. 16, but the ailment has not altered the Ravens’ assessment of the fourth-year quarterback.
“He’s had the little, whatever his arm injury [was], but he can make all the throws,” free safety Eric Weddle said Wednesday. “He’s obviously dangerous in the open field, extending plays, moving the chains.”
Mariota has not missed a start since that Week 2 game, but it appears that the elbow is still an issue. He did not throw for more than 130 yards in three of his four starts and has more interceptions (four) than passing touchdowns (two).
Mariota is on pace for career lows in passing yards (2,704) and passing touchdowns (eight). But he is projected for career highs in rushing attempts (88) and yards (488).
Mariota’s tendency to run with the football has not escaped the attention of the Ravens.
“When he scrambles, he can definitely make the pass, but he’s definitely going to look to run more than not,” middle linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “He’s good at getting out of the pocket, avoiding the sack. So for us, [we need to] try our best to just keep him in the pocket, and when he does get out, just have a good plaster defense.”
Weddle echoed that sentiment, adding, “He’s actually done a lot more running with the ball than last year when we played against him. Knowing that, we just have to always be on-call with our assignments and playing good team defense and eliminate the big plays. Obviously, [it’s about] the same thing every week, week-in week-out. But he does present some challenges offensively, because he’s so athletic, so explosive in the open field with running the ball, that you don’t want him ruining the game for you, especially on third down.”
In last year’s meeting, which ended in a 23-20 win for Tennessee, Mariota completed 19 of 28 throws for 218 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He rushed only three times for six yards with two carries gaining 0 and -1 yards.
Despite Mariota’s apparent leanings this season, Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale was unsure whether the defense could gain a tactical edge Sunday.
“I don’t know if it’s an advantage or not,” he said Thursday. “I know it’s not helping my sleep much. I think what has happened is, I talk about a series of events, and it’s a series of events for them as well — what type of game they’re playing, who they’re playing, how that team’s rushing them, things of that nature.”