NASHVILLE -- The Tennessee Titans are holding their collective breath right now regarding the health of rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Mariota underwent a MRI on Monday, and the diagnosis is a sprained MCL in his left knee. The Titans will have to see how Mariota progresses through the week, beginning on Wednesday, before making a determination if the rookie can make his scheduled start on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
Mariota was injured on a low hit from Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon, a play that both head coach Ken Whisenhunt and left tackle Taylor Lewan, who was blocking Vernon on the play, termed bull(bleep). Vernon was penalized for roughing the passer on the play - one of his two roughing calls in the game - and can probably expect to hear from the league office and be a little lighter in the wallet because of the hit.
That, however, is of little concern to the Titans now, who have lost four in a row and might not be with their starting quarterback on Sunday, unless he progresses.
"He had an MRI this morning and he's got a sprained MCL, but he's walking around the facility here today just fine. So as the week progresses, we'll see how it goes and see if he has a chance to play," Whisenhunt said of Mariota's injury.
That process will begin on Wednesday when the Titans practice, with Mariota probably being limited to start the week at least. Mariota stayed in the game initially after the hit, but was removed in the fourth quarter once the score was out of hand.
"We talked a couple times during the course of the game. I thought that was important to see. But he moved in the pocket, he moved up in the pocket, he still did some things during the course of the game that seemed like he was able to play," Whisenhunt said.
After Mariota was injured, it was clear that he was not as effective as he was before. He had limited mobility and also seemed to be unable to step into his throws as well at times.
"We've got to see him on the field to be able to see what he can do, and that will happen, we think Wednesday," Whisenhunt said.
As for Lewan, to say the least, he was livid on what Vernon did.
"I think it is bull---- football. I'm so tired of people being politically correct. That's bull----. That's (bleeping) bull---- to do that to a player, to do that to a guy's career," Lewan said. "That was my guy, I blocked him, and Marcus threw the ball. I saw that Marcus threw the ball and that guy jumped at his legs. Do I wish anything upon him? No, but I mean, I should have blocked him longer.
"I'm not gonna point fingers. That was one play. Was it bull----. Yeah, it was bull----, but we've got to play through the whistle and we've got to play better. The Dolphins were a better team today. I'm not gonna sit here and say we got bullied. You want to be a physical team, and the Dolphins were a physical team. That's probably what happened to us today, we got out-physicaled."
REPORT CARD VS. DOLPHINS
PASSING OFFENSE: F. Let's see: Six sacks, two interceptions (one for a TD) and two lost fumbles. The Titans not only didn't give Marcus Mariota time to throw, they didn't protect him, nor did they seem to make any adjustments for what was going on. Epic fail all the way around here.
--RUSHING OFFENSE: F. The Titans running back by committee didn't have a quorum on Sunday as Antonio Andrews and Dexter McCluster both led the team with 23 yards on the ground. That simply doesn't get it done.
--PASS DEFENSE: D-minus. They intercepted Ryan Tannehill twice on Sunday, but that was about the extent of their accomplishments. After Perrish Cox exited with a hamstring injury, the Dolphins picked on Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson just about anytime they needed a completion.
--RUSH DEFENSE: F. Lamar Miller had 137 yards rushing all season long, but then put up 99 in the first half of Sunday's game on his way to 113 yards. The Titans had no answers for him from the outset on Sunday.
--SPECIAL TEAMS: C. Special teams seems to have almost no impact on the game for the Titans - good or bad - most weeks. K Ryan Succop continues to be perfect on field goals and extra points, and P Brett Kern has gotten plenty of work the past two weeks as the offense has stalled out.
--COACHING: F. Defensively, the Titans weren't ready for Lamar Miller and a rejuvenated Dolphins running game on Sunday. Offensively, they apparently still have not learned how to protect the quarterback and make the necessary adjustments to stave off a pass rush. Anyway you slice it, that's a recipe for disaster.