NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Wide receiver Marc Mariani's career was placed in doubt last year with a gruesome compound leg fracture. Now as organized team activities have rolled around, Mariani is back on the field for the Titans only nine months after the injury, hoping to make the most of his comeback.
As a reminder of the injury, Mariani has a scar on his knee and scars on each side on his ankle where surgery was performed after the bone broke through the skin. He has a plate and rod in the leg to help stabilize it.
"It's definitely a different atmosphere out here for me, rather than sitting in the training room and looking at those white walls all day," Mariani said. "It's good to be thrown into those situations (of playing) a little sooner than expected. I'm just pushing it hard and trying to get better. I know I've got a lot to improve, and I just have to go out and make plays and get better."
Mariani knows he isn't back to where he was before the injury -- he was a Pro Bowl return man as a rookie in 2010 -- but he feels himself getting closer to his goal.
"My straight line speed is close. It feels better and better every day, but my cutting and route-running are slowly improving," he said. "The pain is pretty non-existent these days. It's just the strength. It's pretty weak and not as durable yet, so it breaks down a little bit, but there are certain things I'm close to getting right and certain things I still have to work on."
Coach Mike Munchak says the Titans' busy offseason shows the seriousness of the team's approach to get back into contention after a 2012 season that ended with a 6-10 record.
"I think it shows that we've done just about everything we can do from coaching changes to free agency to the draft. I think the players saw that, and I think the fans saw that," Munchak said. "I think there's a lot of excitement about where this team has a chance to go this year as opposed to maybe last year."