The toughest battles a person faces are with oneself.
That's the mantra Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota lives by as he enters a crucial 2019 campaign. The starter looked wobbly in the team's first preseason game, while backup Ryan Tannehill stood out. Mariota said Wednesday that he's not worried about what anyone else is doing, but rather focusing on being the "best version" of himself.
"Having Ryan in our room has been a tremendous addition," Mariota said of the backup, via the team's official website. "That competition, year in and year out for me, is with myself. I just look to be the best version of myself, but Ryan adds a guy who has done it, has experience, can talk about things we see in practice. Even today, different things the Patriots are doing, just being able to communicate and be there, be another set of eyes for each other.
"But when it comes down to it, I am just competing against myself. I just try to be the best version that I can be, day in and day out."
The best version of Mariota has been seen only in brief glimpses through four seasons, due mostly to injuries. Staying healthy and playing 16 games for the first time in his career is goal No. 1. When healthy, Mariota sports plus accuracy, particularly on the move, and dual-threat running ability. His pocket presence and generating explosive plays have left things to be desired.
The truth of the matter is that Mariota is correct, he's not battling Tannehill. The ex-Dolphins QB -- playing against backups in practice and preseason games -- is an insurance policy, not a threat. Entering the final year of his rookie deal, Mariota is competing against himself to prove to the Titans he can stay healthy and is, in fact, the franchise quarterback he was drafted as in 2015.