Tennessee Titans wide receiver Marc Mariani is being asked to contribute more on offense, as well as continuing his role as the team's top return man.
Many had speculated during the off-season that Mariani could end up a camp causality, but his strong work ethic has impressed the coaching staff, which wants him to add more to his play in the way of offensive contributions. Extra reps early in camp as a receiver have helped Mariani.
"To be able to get more reps and get more experience is great. I need everyone of them I can get." Mariani said,
One reason Mariani has been able to see the field more often is because Kenny Britt remains on the PUP list now nearly a week into training camp. Also, until he finally signed on Tuesday, the Titans were without first-round pick Kendall Wright as well.
"Those guys are my boys, but like I said I'll take every rep I can get." Mariani said, "I don't have a lot of game day experience, so playing against these guys out here is the best competition I can get. They are top notch so they are just making me better."
Mariani seems serious about proving to his coaching staff, teammates and to himself that he is more than just a special teams player. There is certainly a role for guys who excel mostly on special teams. Guys like Mariani and backup linebackers Tim Shaw and Patrick Bailey are proof of that. But like any player in the NFL, Mariani is competitive and he yearns for more, even if the line in front of him at wide receiver is crowded not only with Britt and Wright, but 1,000-yard receiver Nate Washington and Damian Williams and Lavelle Hawkins, who blossomed last year.
"I've been working with guys like Nate Washington and trying to build my game." said Mariani, "I'm just trying to improve my game, so I can have an impact on Sundays. I think of myself as a receiver. I want to be out there catching balls and I want to be the best I can be. It means a lot to me."