NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Marcus Mariota keeps showing he can shake off a rough start.
Now the Tennessee Titans need to stop making so many mistakes and start helping out the rookie quarterback.
While Mariota missed on his first three passes, the Titans hurt themselves as they gave up the first 17 points in a 34-10 loss at Kansas City on Friday night. Missed tackles kept alive too many drives, while penalties and poor execution stopped the Titans from getting much started.
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The Titans (1-2) were playing their second game in six days while also traveling to Kansas City, and coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Titans played like a tired team at times.
''It's a great teaching tape,'' Whisenhunt said Saturday. ''We're not real happy with some of the things that went on in that game, and we're going to work to correct them.''
Whisenhunt called missed tackles by linebacker Zach Brown ''unacceptable'' after the game, and reviewing the tape didn't help the coach's opinion.
The linebacker had company as the Titans allowed Alex Smith to score on his three possessions, including the opening drive as the Chiefs quarterback completed 6 of 7 passes including a touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin.
Tennessee has allowed a touchdown on the opening drive in six of its past seven preseason games. The Chiefs put together three drives of 10 plays or longer and converted eight of 10 third downs and failing to force the Chiefs to punt.
''I think we had 96 yards after contact last night that we gave up,'' Whisenhunt said. ''That's too big of a number. So we took some bad angles, we didn't do things that we needed to do. That's something I'm confident that we'll work on, and we'll get cleaned up.''
Offensively, the Titans tried to be aggressive early going for it on fourth-and-1 only to be forced to punt after veteran tight end Anthony Fasano, playing in the stadium where he spent the past two seasons, was flagged for a false start. Tennessee wound up penalized seven times for 52 yards.
Not that Mariota looked fazed, just flashing a bit of emotion as he jumped right back up after being sacked by Justin Houston. The rookie then completed seven of his next eight passes for 99 yards, driving the Titans to 10 points before watching from the sideline through the second half. Mariota also had his best game running for 22 yards on three carries.
''It's good to finish on a positive note and just keep playing,'' Mariota said after the game. ''But again it is just about making the team better and getting everybody in and to understand. Then we can move on, come out a little faster.''
Through three games, Mariota is completing 70.4 percent of his passes and is 19 of 27 for 252 yards. The rookie has yet to throw a touchdown pass, but Mariota has played well enough that Whisenhunt said the Titans are considering both options for Thursday night's preseason finale against Minnesota on how much to play their starter.
''He's had a good preseason, he's making a lot of progress, and we feel good about where he's going,'' Whisenhunt said. ''So you could look at it as another opportunity to get him a little bit more work. You could look at him as an opportunity not to expose him to something that would keep him out of the first game.''
That would be Sept. 13 when the Titans open at Tampa Bay against Jameis Winston, the quarterback taken a spot ahead of Mariota at No. 1 overall.
Notes: Whisenhunt said the five offensive linemen who have started the past two games have made a ''case'' for themselves to start. That includes Byron Bell at left guard and rookie Jeremiah Poutasi at right tackle. ... CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson (sprained left ankle) and undrafted rookie LB J.R. Tavai (left knee) were expected to practice and could play Thursday. S Da'Norris Searcy (knee) and WR Hakeem Nicks (knee) are expected to practice and could play. Whisenhunt said NT Sammie Hill (right knee) just had some soreness that isn't expected to be an issue.
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