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Where EAST meets the Northwest

ROOKIE SEASON. Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (#8) throws a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Fasano during the second half of a National Football League (NFL) game in Cleveland, in this September 20, 2015 file photo. Mariota’s inaugural NFL season ended two games early due to a knee injury. The rookie quarterback threw for 2,818 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions despite being sacked 38 times. (AP Photo/David Richard, File)

From The Asian Reporter, V26, #1 (January 4, 2016), page 7.

Marcus Mariota’s season ends two games early

By Teresa M. Walker
The Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota’s inaugural National Football League season ended two games early. Titans interim head coach Mike Mularkey said it wasn’t "worth the risk" of playing Mariota in the season finale at Indianapolis.

So Mariota’s rookie campaign was done.

He missed two games earlier in the season with a sprained MCL in his left knee and he finished the year sitting out the final two games because of a sprained right knee.

Mariota tested his knee in practices before the final game, but Mularkey said he was not as far along as they thought he might be, so the Titans decided to play it safe and bench him for the final game.

"It’s doing it the right way and being smart about it," Mularkey said of the decision. "We were hoping. We knew it was slim. He’s a pretty quick healer, but not the case for this one."

Mularkey said his quarterback didn’t take the news well, and had expressed a desire to play in the finale. "He’d play if he could," Mularkey was quoted as saying.

Declaring Mariota out against the Colts protected last year’s No. 2 draft pick overall out of Oregon for the future, and for the coach the Titans decide to hire for the quarterback’s second season.

Mariota finished his rookie year with a 3-9 record having missed a quarter of the season. He threw for 2,818 yards with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions despite being sacked 38 times. He completed 62.2 percent of his passes and posted a 91.5 passer rating.

Mularkey said Mariota might’ve played even better if not for the initial knee injury October 18 in a 38-10 loss to Miami.

"He was slowed with the injury," Mularkey said. "But I think as far as his progress, I thought he made great strides. Learned a lot, went through a lot, saw a lot. A lot of these teams are playoff-caliber teams here at the end. The defenses we faced, the fronts, the blitzes, the things we saw, he saw, will benefit him for this next year easily."

Backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger started his second-straight game and fourth this season. He is 0-10 as a starter, and Mettenberger remaining winless as a starter helped the Titans clinch the top overall draft pick for the first time since 1973, when the then-Houston Oilers drafted defensive end John Matuszak.

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