Update: After a drive on the sidelines, Mariota is back in the game.
Second Update: Mariota threw interceptions on back-to-back passes, and then was replaced again by Gabbert. The Titans then stated that he has an elbow injury.
The Titans have high expectations with first-year head coach Mike Vrabel. And those expectations depend upon franchise QB Marcus Mariota.
Now he’s injured.
Mariota was sluggish in the first few drives of the season opener against Miami, then was forced to endure a long weather delay. When he came back, he took a few hard hits, including one to his lower leg that required further examination from the trainers. While on the ground, Mariota was also flexing his throwing hand. One could argue that the hit on Mariota was a dirty play by Dolphins player William Hayes, but Mariota is always exposed when running the option-style offense.
Blaine Gabbert is the Titans backup quarterback. Gabbert spent the previous season in Arizona, where he started five games for the Cardinals last season.
The Titans are cautious with Mariota, who has already suffered season-ending injured in his young career. Mariota broke his right fibula in 2016, and finished the season on injured reserve.
This is supposed to be a big year for the Titans, who hired new coordinators on both sides of the ball. Top pick Corey Davis, who spent most of last year dealing with an injury, is healthy and ready to contribute. The team signed Dion Lewis from the Patriots, and he figures to combine with Derrick Henry for the most dynamic backfield in the league.
But if Mariota is injured, the whole thing goes down in flames.