There’s no point pretending it’s normal, because it’s not.
But faced with the unappetizing reality of being benched in midseason, former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota is choosing to help the Titans however he can.
“It’s different for me for sure, but I appreciate the fact that I get to be out there with the guys,” Mariota said, via Teresa Walker of the Associated Press. “Every single time, every single moment that you’re on the field I never take it for granted.”
Last week, his primary role was to play Lamar Jackson on the scout team (and it certainly didn’t hurt), but the Titans have been deliberate about sprinkling him into the offense since he was replaced by Ryan Tannehill.
He’s thrown a few passes, went out for one last week, and has generally been willing to pitch in wherever he can. Chiefs coach Andy Reid remembers Mariota catching his own pass for a touchdown in a playoff win against his team on Jan. 6, 2018, so he’s prepared for anything.
“That’s one of the benefits to having him there,” Reid said. “He’s a Heisman winner, he can run the ball, he can throw the ball. He’s a good football player. You’ve got to be ready for that.”
And that means Mariota needs to be ready, while simultaneously swallowing his pride.
“If I can just be present here and help our guys out, help this team out, everything else will fall into place,” Mariota said.
As a pending free agent, that’s certainly going to be somewhere else next year, but Mariota deserves credit for handling the situation gracefully, and finding a way to participate.