A fighting spirit is essential to success in the NFL. Zach Mettenberger appears to have plenty of it after his latest comments regarding the upcoming quarterback battle between himself and rookie Marcus Mariota.
Speaking with ESPN’s Adam Caplan via text, Mettenberger made it clear he’s not going to make it easy for the No. 2 overall pick:
“I don’t [know] what the mind-set is, but at the end of the day I can just control what I do and I’m extremely confident in myself, almost to a fault,” Mettenberger said. “But people who know me know I’m not going down without a fight to the death.”
Mettenberger doesn’t seem to be the only member of the Titans that thinks he deserves to start, either. Receivers Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter appeared to be visibly upset when Tennessee pulled the trigger on Oregon’s golden boy.
Mettenberger has been organizing offseason workouts, preparing to be the team’s starter, and he has earned the respect of his teammates in the process.
“As of right now, my quarterback, and everybody else’s quarterback for the Titans, is Zach Mettenberger,” Wright said in mid-April (h/t Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean). “Jameis Winston, or Marcus Mariota, or Philip Rivers or whoever, they didn’t text me and tell me to come down here. Zach did. So Zach Mettenberger is the quarterback, he is the guy, and that is who I am following right now.”
The Titans will certainly feel pressure to start Mariota after committing to him in the draft. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt has already indicated he’s set on starting him immediately. Given the support Mettenberger seems to have in the locker room, and given his determination, however, he’s not going to make Whisenhunt’s decision easy this summer.
Should Mariota struggle to pick up the pro game during training camp and the exhibition season, then the Titans will have a tough decision to make.
Mettenberger, though drafted in Round 7 last year, was a phenomenal quarterback at LSU. If not for an untimely knee injury and some off-field issues, he most certainly would have been in the mix as a potential first-round pick in last year’s draft. Playing behind a suspect offensive line, he showed flashes of that potential last year during his six starts for the Titans.
Betting men would still likely put money on Mariota to start this year for Tennessee. But given Mettenberger’s determination and spirit, nobody should count him out of this fight just yet.
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