Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is facing the coldest game he’s ever played Sunday when Tennessee visits Kansas City, where the high is predicted to reach 19 degrees.
That’s very chilly for a native of Hawaii and will be among the top five coldest games all-time for the Tennessee franchise.
”I’m looking forward to it,” Mariota said. ”It’s going to be a fun atmosphere and can’t wait to do it.”
Mariota said one of his last games at Oregon was played in temperatures in the 20s, but nothing like what the Titans will see Sunday. At least the sun will be out, with no snow in the forecast.
The 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 pick overall in 2015 and other star athletes took part in a Nike commercial last year showing Mariota and other NFL stars playing on a snow day.
No, that commercial did not prepare Mariota to play in the cold .
”If you think bubbles and fake snow is going to get us ready for Sunday …” Mariota said with a laugh. ”No, but it was lot of fun to be able to do that. Nike did a fun event.
”All in all, we’ll be ready for Sunday.”
SCRAMBLING QB: New Miami Dolphins backup quarterback T.J. Yates said he spent 18 hours a day at his new job this week, taking only an occasional break for ”a six-hour nap” while he learned the offense – and the names of teammates.
He didn’t get a chance to meet his blockers until he stepped into the huddle at practice.
”I introduced myself to the offensive line on the first play,” Yates said. ”I got in there: `Hi guys, how are you doing?’
”I’ll certainly learn names. Right now it’s just numbers.”
Yates is a sixth-year veteran with seven career starts, including one in the 2011 playoffs with Houston. He also has played for Atlanta.
He signed Tuesday and will back up Matt Moore on Saturday night at the New York Jets, part of a shakeup at the position after starter Ryan Tannehill sprained his left knee last week.
CHEETAH SPEED: Opposing NFL teams are quickly recognizing the speed of Tyreek Hill , but Kansas City’s rookie wide receiver has known since he was 6 years old that he’s faster than just about anyone else.
”My older cousins took me on this dirt road,” he recalled this week, ”and there were wild dogs and it was crazy. My cousins are like, 12, and I’m the youngest. The dogs came out and I outran everybody. I was scared; it was a wild thing. Everybody was running, but I was the first one back to the house.”
His family dubbed him ”Cheetah” for his speed, and the nickname ultimately stuck.
It still fits, too. Hill’s speed is a big reason he’s scored on the ground, through the air and on punt and kickoff returns this season, the first rookie since Gale Sayers in 1965 to accomplish the feat.
His punt return TD last week against Oakland earned him AFC special teams player of the week.
KAP’S IMPACT: Colin Kaepernick’s explanation of his decision to not stand for the national anthem before 49ers games has been chosen one of the 10 most impactful communications actions this year by Decker Communications.
Nominations for positive or negative impactful communications were solicited by Decker, which provides communication strategies, training and actionable insights to executives and their staffs at Fortune 500 companies, to leading nonprofits and to startups. All nominations were vetted by an internal committee.
Labeled ”The Knee Drop Heard `Round the World,” Kaepernick’s justification of his actions was listed 10th by Decker. The company’s review of Kaepernick’s TV interview:
”Are you going to make a point or make a difference? We all have an opportunity and a choice.
”Colin Kaepernick made a point, but he missed the opportunity to make a difference. He was not prepared to articulate his point of view, and he missed a massive opportunity to speak with passion and purpose. Of course people would want to know what he was doing.
”It’s a lesson about what happens in any miscommunication: you mean one thing, and the audience absorbs another. While he’s saying all the right things, his behaviors are defensive and sketchy.”
Other sports items on Decker Communications’ list were Vin Scully’s goodbye speech at Dodger Stadium (No. 4), and Ryan Lochte’s handling of his problems at the Rio Olympics (No. 7).
OFFSPRING: A sectional high school playoff game on Friday night in California figured to feature quite an array of celebrity fans in the stands.
Cathedral Catholic High School, which is located in San Diego, was taking on St. Mary’s. Cathedral’s quarterback is Tate Haynes, son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Haynes. And the sons of four other NFL alums were also on the roster: John Lynch’s son Jake; Rick Mirer’s son Morrison; John Carney’s son JD; and Eric Allen’s son Jordan.
AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Teresa M. Walker, and Sports Writers Dave Skretta and Steven Wine contributed.
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