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Mariani Wants to Show he’s More than a Kick Returner

Posted by Gary Glenn on July 30, 2012 – 8:47 pm

In his first two NFL seasons, Marc Mariani has made his living as one of the NFL’s top kick returners. He made the Pro Bowl his rookie year as the AFC’s top return man and enjoyed another productive season on special teams in 2011.

But Mariani has bigger goals, including a desire to be on the field Sunday afternoons catching passes.

And he’s working hard to make his case.

Prior to joining the Titans as a seventh-round pick in 2010, Mariani ended his collegiate career as the most prolific receiver and all-purpose player in Montana history, setting school marks in career receiving yards (3,018) and receiving touchdowns (29). His 164 receptions and 200 career points rank seventh in the Grizzlies’ record book.

But playing fifth-string behind Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins with the Titans, Mariani’s opportunities have been limited on offense. His five career receptions for 24 yards all came last season, however, he’s hoping that will change.

With Britt still sidelined by knee issues and top draft pick Kendall Wright not yet signed, Mariani is receiving extra reps early on in training camp, an opportunity the third-year pro is looking to take full advantage of.

“Every rep I can get is huge for me,” Mariani said after Monday’s practice. “I don’t have a lot of game day experience, but playing against our DBs every day is the best competition I can get. They are top notch, so it’s making me better. I want to do the best I can with every rep I get and improve every day.”

Mariani, whose playing style has drawn comparisons to New England’s Wes Welker, said he took advantage of his first full NFL off-season, taking notes from veterans like Washington, while talking every day with receivers coach Dave Ragone.

“It’s been fun learning things from them to build my game,” Mariani said. “Now I’m out there working and not thinking as much, just playing fast and the game is coming to me a lot better. I’m just trying to improve and do my part so I can help out on Sundays.”

Head coach Mike Munchak said Mariani’s teammates have taken notice.

“The quarterbacks have confidence in him, I know that,” Munchak said. “I think he’s developed a confidence in himself that he knows how to make adjustments. He’s not limited to a couple of routes or couple of plays, maybe as we had last year with him. The confidence now is that he can do a lot more, and we’ll have to see what happens, especially during the preseason.”

The exhibition games will give Mariani an opportunity to prove he’s more than just a kick returner — even if he is one of the NFL’s best.

“Obviously, I’ve made my way in the return game so far, but I think of myself as a receiver,” Mariani said. “I’m a hard worker and I want to be out there catching passes on Sunday for sure. I’m extremely competitive and I want to be the best that I can be. It means a lot to me and I take pride in it.”

Posted in Blog | 26 Comments »

26 Responses to “Mariani Wants to Show he’s More than a Kick Returner”

  1. By mmvp on Jul 30, 2012 | Reply

    Maybe he can let a few more bounce off his foot like last year. He is still terrible.

  2. By titans fan on Jul 31, 2012 | Reply

    mmvp… hey one mistake. This guy went to the pro bowl his rockie year( his team got their butts kicked, but not his fault) Terrible?? Shut up chuck! Lets go Marc, do some work this preseason!

  3. By Griz Fan on Jul 31, 2012 | Reply

    who is this mmvp douche Mariani is the man

  4. By mmvp on Jul 31, 2012 | Reply

    Whatever….youa ll must be Griz fans and can;t see teh forest for the trees. Marc is still terrible. I would rather have Patrick Petersen.

  5. By mmvp on Jul 31, 2012 | Reply

    Oh….I and don;t want him out there playing offsense at WR either. That is even worse.

  6. By titans fan on Aug 1, 2012 | Reply

    Over 3,000+ returning yards in 2 season is pretty damn good! I’d like to see him catch a few more passes. I bet ya you have a different tone bout this kid after preseason. And with all of the recievers on this team and he is the starting kick&punt returner he must be doin something right or one of the other 9 or however many guys, would have HIS spot.

  7. By addicted2football on Aug 2, 2012 | Reply

    I don’t care what anybody says, I like Mariani and hope to see him get a shot in the pre-season. We’ve all heard that WR is the 2nd hardest position to learn in the NFL behind QB, and it usually takes 3 seasons for most WRs to make an impact. Lavelle Hawkins only had enough catches to count on 1 hand till last season (his 4th year in the league), and he isn’t even a return man on special teams like Mark is. Just do your thing Mark, and let the haters hate. GO TITANS, GO MARK MARIANI !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. By Titanupson on Aug 3, 2012 | Reply

    I dont know what the haters are talking about. Mark has got some serious speed and will be a good WR once its more of a focus, which sounds like what there trying to do this year. Having a good return man is a big deal in this league. Why risk getting him hurt if you dont have to?

  9. By titansFOlife on Aug 4, 2012 | Reply

    yo man dis mmvp be trippin nah say? Marc is a hoss cat and one of da best return men the titans have had in a while. TRUTH.

  10. By mmvp on Aug 4, 2012 | Reply

    Whatever….I am not sure what you people are looking at. All he does is let balls bounce off his foot out of bounds and runs directly into trafiic EVERY time. He has no cutting skills whatsoever. Fisher was protecting him and now looks like Munch might be too. He should not even make the team, IMO.

  11. By MMVP is an idiot on Aug 5, 2012 | Reply

    mmvp is an idiot. Mariani is a pretty good returner and has potential for wr. Of course people would rather have Peterson to return. He was a top ten pick! Way to state the obvious

  12. By addicted2football on Aug 6, 2012 | Reply

    A man who makes the pro bowl as a return specialist in his ROOKIE season doesn’t need to be protected by his coach (not Fisher OR Munchak) or anyone else. Mark has 3 TDs on returns in 2 years, and that stat could easily be better if kickoffs were moved back to the 30 yard line, as I believe they should.

  13. By Bruce on Aug 6, 2012 | Reply

    I don’t care what anyone says about him. The coach is willing to give him a shot and so am I. Show us what you got Mariani!

  14. By titans fan on Aug 6, 2012 | Reply

    Lets go Marc, just let the haters fuel that fire man! Do work son

  15. By Facts on Aug 6, 2012 | Reply

    In his first two NFL seasons, Marc Mariani turned in two of the franchise’s top two all-time seasons as a returner. In 2010, Mariani set the franchise record for the most total return yards
    on punts and kickoffs in franchise history. His 2010 total exceeded Derrick
    Mason’s previous record of 1,794 yards in 2000. Mariani’s 2010 total also
    led the NFL and ranked 18th in league history.
    Mariani followed his record-setting campaign with 1,238 combined
    punt return and kickoff return yards in 2011, ranking ninth in team annals.
    Most total punt and kickoff return yards in a season, franchise history: Punt Ret Kickoff Ret Total Ret
    Player Season Yards Yards Yards
    1. Marc Mariani 2010 329 1,530 1,859
    2. Derrick Mason 2000 662 1,132 1,794
    3. Mel Gray 1995 303 1,183 1,486
    4. Bobby Jancik 1963 145 1,317 1,462
    5. Mel Gray 1996 205 1,224 1,429
    6. Billy Johnson 1975 612 798 1,410
    7. Adam Jones 2005 272 1,127 1,399
    8. Chris Carr 2008 323 984 1,307
    9. Marc Mariani 2011 490 748 1,238
    10. Jerry LeVias 1969 292 940 1,232

  16. By Craig P on Aug 6, 2012 | Reply

    Mariani will be an awesome slot receiver with the time he is puttting into it, he just has to work at that. What we need to get him open is a Kenny Britt who care about the team. The Titans should by no means vut him, but should suspend him before the NFL does and give him a message the the team, and THE FANS, are tired of being hurt by him acting like a trust fund baby all the time. In the mean time why is Plaxico Burress not being broought to Nashville. This guy is exactly Kenny Britt with the exception that he was held accountable, he could be an instant roster impact and like Moss was with his time here try to guide theses young guys running around acting like idiots. Do the right thing front office, suspend Britt for four games give Plax a 2 year contract!!

  17. By Steve Berlin on Aug 7, 2012 | Reply

    Wow mmvp, thank you for the good laugh in my living room. Good thing you’re just messing with everyone, because you clearly can’t be serious. Mariani in the seventh round is a steal for a return man of his caliber. Rather have Patrick Peterson? Really? The guy who broke set the record for PR last year? You’re a genius, how’d no one see that before? Except he was a first round pick with first round money, and Marc is still among the best at one heck of a bargain. So, yeah, nice one.

  18. By Steve Berlin on Aug 7, 2012 | Reply

    On a second note, more seriously. I’d beware of Mariani focusing on playing offense. Do what you do best, Marc, and be happy that you excel at it. No one even talks about Devin Hester anymore, but hey, he gets to play receiver now, right? Instead of becoming a HOF returner who’s records may never have been broken, had he focused there instead of the glamour spot.

  19. By mmvp on Aug 7, 2012 | Reply

    Why do we have to settle for seventh rounders at WR? Why do we have to settle for seveneth rounders at KR? I am sick of not having a good WR. Why don’t we draft one….and let them play? Marc is no Drew Bennett….don’t let the jersey fool you. Why do we have to settle on a mediocre team and players? I want the best players we can get…..not bargains. The way you people settle for mediocrity is just amazing to me. He is still terrible/ Tell me with a straight face if you think he was not drafted by Fisher for his game playing ability rather than where he went to college….give me a break.

  20. By mmvp on Aug 7, 2012 | Reply

    Cool….this is the most commented on article on this website in a long time.

  21. By addicted2football on Aug 8, 2012 | Reply

    @mmvp – The Giants didn’t have to settle on an undrafted rookie free agent named Victor Cruz, the Patriots didn’t have to pick up an undrafted free agent named Wes Welker who was actually cut by the Chargers and then traded by the Dolphins. What do these 2 teams have in common, they’re both glad they did. Give Mariani a chance.

  22. By Facts on Aug 8, 2012 | Reply

    @ mmvp. The season hasn’t started yet and rather than being excited to see what Mariani can do, all you do is complain. I’m excited for this season! If this seventh round draft pick is in there shaking things up, more power to him, and maybe it will make Wright, Washington Williams and the other 5 WR play a little harder.

    From what I’ve read it sounds like the coaches and the Qb’s like Mariani. This guy has to be a hard worker, look at where he has come from. I’d take a guy that fights for everything over a guy that has the talent out of his butt but comes with unnecessary baggage. Lets go Marc!

  23. By Facts on Aug 8, 2012 | Reply

    Not to be miss under, Mariani has enough talent! Im saying he’s not missing practice just so he can get paid more.

  24. By Fan on Aug 9, 2012 | Reply

    Can you give some examples of reasons why you think 83 is “terrible”? Please. Other people on this blog have cited actual concrete stats that kind of prove you don’t know what you are talking about.
    Also, just to remind you, the past few seasons the titans have added some WR players early in the draft, Britt for example (who in the first few weeks last season was one of he top WRs in the league, before injury). So what are you asking for? You are really going to sit here and tell us, “with a straight face” that the most important thing to you is how high a player goes in the draft, not their actual performance? Do a quick google search for undrafted or late round nfl stars. And look at some first rounders that have floundered in the NFL (*cough* VY) whether it is 1st round or 7th, if a guy can play, then who cares?!

  25. By Titans Fan83 on Aug 9, 2012 | Reply


    Take some time and do a little research. You won’t find a harder working, down to earth, good hearted kid in the league. He has done nothing but set records, kept his nose clean and worked hard his entire football career.

    My guess is that mmvp was somewhat of a high school reciever who didn’t play college football because of poor attitude, poor work ethic and a coach who told it too him straight…… just suck mmvp. Jealousy is a bad thing.

  26. By Titans Fan on Aug 9, 2012 | Reply

    @ Titans Fan83.. mmvp still has a sliver up his a$$ from riding the pine.

    I watched Mariani play championship games in Chattanooga and have like this kid ever since! Lets go 83

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