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Titans hope Mariota plays vs Texans; Pees to return to work

November 19, 2018

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota watches from the bench during the second half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans need the extra day off before their next game both to allow injuries to heal and figure out what went wrong in their worst loss this season.

Marcus Mariota is recovering from a stinger that knocked him out of the Titans’ 38-10 loss to the Colts, not the elbow injury announced during the game. Coach Mike Vrabel said all tests were positive on defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who returned to Nashville on Monday. Pees spent a night in an Indianapolis hospital after an issue forced him from the coaches’ box early in the game.

Vrabel also said he is hopeful Mariota will play when the Titans visit Houston on Nov. 26 and Pees also will return to work, even his boss plans to limit the coordinator to banker’s hours of 9 to 5.

“I just want to make sure that he’s getting plenty of rest and that we’re not rushing anything,” Vrabel said. “We do have an extra day with the Monday night game.”

Whether Mariota misses his third start this season depends on how quickly he recovers from what Vrabel called a bad stinger with a hit to the head. Mariota was hurt when sacked for the fourth time late in the first half, and he did not return with what was announced as an injury to his elbow. Mariota was forced from the season opener after hurting his right elbow.

Mariota was hit in the head, and Vrabel said the independent neurologist evaluated the quarterback and cleared Mariota.

“Like a lot of players, he got a bad stinger,” Vrabel said. “So, we’ll have to see where he’s at.”

Vrabel said that may include Mariota getting a second opinion. Mariota did not speak to reporters after the game because he was receiving treatment, and the quarterback was not in the locker room Monday when it was open to the media. Vrabel said a stinger can leave some numbness down the arm, and Mariota dealt with some numbness in his fingers after his elbow injury.

His coach hopes Mariota will be available against the Texans. Mariota missed the first game between these teams in Week 2, a 20-17 win by the Titans and backup Blaine Gabbert.

“We’re hopeful that he’ll check out and feel good enough to play on Monday,” Vrabel said. “Just being less than 24 hours after the game, some of these things take a little bit of time to cool down and really just treat and diagnose.”

Vrabel said he told Pees, 69, not to come to work once back in Nashville. Vrabel thanked the Colts and Indianapolis general manager Chris Ballard for checking on Pees and his wife while the Titans flew home Sunday.

“Everything that would be really worrisome has been ruled out from the neurologist in Indy,” Vrabel said.

The Titans (5-5) have to figure out what went wrong against the Colts, a surprise after routing the Patriots 34-10 the week before. They now trail Houston (7-3) by two games in the AFC South, and this is the first of three games in an 11-day span for Tennessee. They host the Jets on Dec. 2 and then the Jaguars on Dec. 6.

Vrabel said the Titans aren’t finished yet this season.

“We’re still in this race as bad as it was, and it was bad,” Vrabel said of the loss to the Colts. “Put it all on me. I’ve lost five games and the players have won five. So, I have to do a better job of not losing them and they have to do a better job of winning them.”

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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