The Province


- — John Kryk

The Tennessee Titans might still have any number of pains in the neck, but Marcus Mariota’s isn’t one of them anymore.

He’s now expected to start Monday night’s NFL game at the Houston Texans.

After being limited in Thursday’s practice with a neck injury he suffered a week ago Sunday at Indianapol­is, the fourth-year passer practised fully on both Friday and Saturday, and on Saturday afternoon the Titans removed him from their injury list altogether, meaning he’s expected to play and start.

“He’s ready to roll,” Titans offensive coordinato­r Matt LaFleur said late in the week.

Backup QB Blaine Gabbert replaced Mariota early in the blowout loss to the Colts, and would play should Mariota

(pictured) suffer any setbacks. Tennessee has had a strange season — playing better on defence than probably most expected under first-year defensive-specialist head coach Mike Vrabel, but still experienci­ng massive struggles on offence most of the time. If Mariota can play as he did in wins earlier this month at Dallas and against New England — his standout performanc­es in an otherwise disappoint­ing year — the Titans have a good chance of knocking off the Texans.

This is a huge game in the AFC South, with the final month of the NFL regular season only days away.

Expect a solid, emotional performanc­e from the Texans. They’ll be highly motivated to honour the franchise’s founding owner Robert McNair, who died Friday after battling cancer for several years. Tributes poured in from present and past Texans players.

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