Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will return as starter for Saints game

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will return as starter for Saints game
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota looks to pass during the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 13. (Scott Audette / Associated Press)

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will return to the starting lineup Sunday to face the New Orleans Saints.

Mariota, who is officially listed as probable, has missed the Titans' last two games with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Mariota's injury occurred on a hit from Miami's Olivier Vernon, who was penalized for roughing the passer.


"He's going to play," Titans interim Coach Mike Mularkey said. "I think each day he has gotten better. To be on the turf [for Friday's practice] here, which is the same turf he's going to be on Sunday, it was good to see him move around like he did."

Mariota will wear a brace to protect the knee, but Mularkey said he isn't concerned about any issues with his quarterback's mobility.

Heath won't be fined for Lockette hit

Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath will not be fined by the NFL for his hit on Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, who needed surgery to stabilize ligaments in his neck.

Lockette was injured last Sunday in Seattle's 13-12 win over Dallas during a punt return when he was hit by Heath and knocked out. He lay motionless for several minutes and was eventually strapped to a backboard and taken off the field.

Heath was penalized for an illegal blindside block on the play, but the league ruled it didn't warrant an additional fine.

Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett was fined $20,000 for his late hit on Dallas quarterback Matt Cassel in that same game.

Cincinnati safety George Iloka was docked $23,152 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller in the Bengals' 16-10 victory. Iloka was called for unnecessary roughness after Miller caught the 14-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger, and the 15-yard penalty helped set up a field goal for Pittsburgh.

Oakland linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong was fined $17,363 for his hit to the midsection of New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith, who left for two plays after taking the shot. Armstrong was not penalized on the play.

Arizona linebacker Kevin Minter was fined $8,681 for unnecessary roughness after his hit on a sliding Cleveland quarterback Josh McCown in the second quarter of the Cardinals' 34-20 win.

New Orleans cornerback Brandon Browner and Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins were also each docked $8,681 for hits on separate plays in the Saints' 52-49 victory. Browner hit New York wide receiver Rueben Randle out of bounds, while Hankins — who was on the sideline — lowered a shoulder into Saints running back Mark Ingram, who went out of bounds after a run.

Manziel's starting status undecided

Johnny Manziel's prime-time TV performance didn't earn him a full-time gig. At least not yet.

Browns Coach Mike Pettine said he'll wait until next week before deciding on whether to stick with Manziel as his starting quarterback. Manziel filled in for injured starter Josh McCown on Thursday night against Cincinnati and delivered some Johnny Football moments as well as a few he'd like to have back during a 31-10 loss to the unbeaten Bengals.


Pierre-Paul may be activated

The New York Giants will decide whether to activate Jason Pierre-Paul on Saturday.

Coach Tom Coughlin said that everything is positive at this point for Pierre-Paul, but the medical staff wants to look at him one more time before clearing him to play at Tampa Bay.

Pierre-Paul has not played since losing his right index finger and injuring a couple of other fingers on the hand in a fireworks accident on July 4. The two-time Pro Bowler led the Giants with 12 1/2sacks last season. The 26-year-old was expected to be the force on coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's new defense, a unit that has a league-low nine sacks in eight games.


Buffalo Bills top receiver Sammy Watkins says he's set to return from an ankle injury and play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. "I'll definitely be out there," he said Friday. ... The Washington Redskins' top three cornerbacks — DeAngelo Hall, Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland — are all still dealing with injuries and considered questionable. ... The Philadelphia Eagles could be without a key veteran on both sides of the ball when they take on the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. Left tackle Jason Peters (back) and inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans (hamstring) have both been listed as questionable for the game. Rookie wide receiver Nelson Agholor (ankle) and running back Ryan Mathews (groin) also are listed as questionable. ... Nick Mangold is set to return to his spot in the middle of the New York Jets' offensive line. The veteran center was listed as probable for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars after fully participating in practice Friday. ... Minnesota Vikings middle linebacker Eric Kendricks will miss the game against St. Louis because of a rib injury. The Vikings ruled Kendricks out on Friday. Outside linebacker Anthony Barr is listed as questionable with back injury and defensive tackle Shariff Floyd (knee) will miss another game, leaving the Vikings with a banged-up defense to face Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley.