INDIANAPOLIS —Chuck Pagano is "reading between the lines" when it comes to Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota's availability Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts.
"I'm fully confident …" he told reporters on Thursday, "that he'll be out there."
Mariota suffered a hamstring injury two weeks ago in the Titans' 57-14 loss to the Houston Texans, and was inactive last Sunday in Tennessee's 16-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Thirteen-year NFL veteran Matt Cassel started in Mariota's place in that game against the Dolphins, and completed 21-of-32 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, though he was sacked six times and the Titans would only convert 2-of-13 opportunities on third down.
Mariota was limited in Thursday's practice, though he saw his workload increase over the previous day's session. But Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said Mariota is yet to even attempt a full sprint, which is important for a quarterback whose mobility is so key to his success.
"I want to be very smart about how we do this," Mularkey said, via TitansOnline.com’s Jim Wyatt. "It is more than this game. It is a lot of games to be concerned about.
"I'll have to see more than what I've seen to this point."
Pagano said the Colts will prepare for Mariota being under center on Monday, but will be ready should Cassel get the start. Mularkey had said earlier in the week that it could be a gametime decision.
The Colts' defense has been able to mostly limit Mariota in its first three meetings against the former Heisman Trophy award winner out of Oregon. In those three games — all Colts victories — Mariota has completed 74-of-119 passes (62.2 percent) for six touchdowns to two interceptions, though he's been sacked 11 times in those matchups and fumbled twice, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
Cassel, meanwhile, has also played in three games against the Colts in his career, twice as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs (2010 and 2011) and once with the New England Patriots (2008). In those games, he has completed 62-of-92 passes (67.4 percent) for 617 yards with four touchdowns to one interception, and has been sacked three times.
"I think you've got to prepare to see Marcus (Mariota), and prepare for both guys," Pagano said in a conference call with the Nashville media. "We'll do our work and put the time in and then plan on Marcus starting and then if he doesn't well have a plan for Matt (Cassel)."