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Titans QB Mariota practices, likely to start against Texans

November 23, 2018

FILE - In this Nov. 11, 2018, file photo, Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota throws a pass against the New England Patriots during the first half of an NFL football game in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans play the Houston Texans, who have won seven games in a row, Monday night. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota fully participated in Friday’s practice and is expected to start Monday night’s road game against the AFC South-leading Houston Texans.

Mariota suffered a stinger Sunday in a 38-10 loss at Indianapolis and didn’t play in the second half of that game. He was limited in Wednesday and Thursday’s work but got the green light from head coach Mike Vrabel on Friday to start, barring an unforeseen setback.

“He felt better,” Vrabel said. “We’ve got to keep working. ... He looked good today, but that’s why you practice. You try to always improve and get better and fix the things you didn’t have right. He was not limited.”

Mariota missed the first meeting between the Titans and Texans on Sept. 16 in Nashville. The Titans won that game 20-17 with backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert under center and with the help of a fake punt touchdown.

While Mariota was a full participant on Friday, defensive coordinator Dean Pees was absent from the afternoon practice.

Pees spent Sunday night in an Indianapolis hospital due to a medical issue. Pees returned to practice Wednesday and Thursday, but Vrabel wanted him to rest on Friday and excused him from practice.

“Dean was tired today, and I asked him to go home,” Vrabel said. “I wanted him to get some rest. I’m trying to get Dean to Monday night, just like I am all the players. The plan was simply, ‘Hey, Dean, why do you go get some rest? Why don’t you go get some sleep?’ That’s what I felt like was best to try to get him to the game.”

Also, left tackle Taylor Lewan was out of Friday’s practice due to illness. Running back David Fluellen remains out with a knee injury.

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