Even though he made enough progress to be a part of a team’s 53-man roster last year, Tyler Marz knows that there’s a lot of work to do this offseason. He knows he must always be Preparing for the battle ahead

Even though he made enough progress to be a part of a team’s 53-man roster last year, Tyler Marz knows that there’s a lot of work to do this offseason. He knows he must always be

Photos courtesy of the Tennessee Titans Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Tyler Marz (No. 69) plays in a preseason game on August 27 against the Chicago Bears in Nashville, Tennessee. Marz, who is in his third year in the NFL, is hoping to crack the Titans’ 53-man roster this year. Tennessee Titans vs. Chicago Bears in a preseason game on August 27, 2017. Photos by Donn Jones Photography

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 2017 NFL season was a big one for Springfield native Tyler Marz.

The offensive lineman got his first taste of NFL life after he was picked up off the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad by the L.A. Chargers in September of 2017.

He was on the team for seven weeks before returning to the Titans’ practice squad late in the season.

The Titans made the AFC playoffs last year, getting knocked out by New England in the second round. They feature an up-and-coming team with a lot of excitement, but the 2018 season will see a change with Mike Vrabel taking over the head coaching duties.

Marz is excited to meet with the coaching staff and as of now, he’s working out in the offseason and taking it easy before team activities begin again in April.

Photos courtesy of the Tennessee Titans Tyler Marz does a practice drill for the Tennessee Titans last year.

With Vrabel, there’s certainly going to be changes to the offensive playbook, but Marz isn’t too worried.

“I mean scheme-wise, I’ve run every play in the NFL, everyone runs the same thing,” he said. “Some people run more than others. I’ve heard that they’re going to be more of an outside zone team, which I’ve done before. Just to figure out the details that they want and the technique, that’ll be the first thing to do and do it the way that they want because each coach is different.”

Preparation begins in January

After the Titans were eliminated by the Patriots in the second round of the playoffs, they signed Marz to a futures deal that means he will have a chance to compete for a roster spot this year. He was plucked from the Titans’ practice squad on Sept. 20 by the Chargers last year but he didn’t travel with the team or dress for the games.

The Chargers eventually released Marz and he went back to the Titans’ practice squad, where he finished the remainder of the season.

Photos courtesy of the Tennessee Titans Tyler Marz gets ready to run a drill at a Tennessee Titans’ practice last fall.

He spent some time relaxing in the offseason with teammates while he continued his workouts but he knows it’s going to be time to get back to business soon.

“For me it’s just staying in shape right now, trying to get more explosive and stronger,” Marz said. “We’ve got a whole new coaching staff, at least a new head coach and different position coaches. There’s a few that are coming back so we’re probably going to have a whole new system to learn, which that’ll start up once we get back into Nashville. Until then, I’m going to focus on myself, things like my diet and training.”

The biggest change for Marz and the rest of the Titans this offseason will come when Mike Vrabel takes over as head coach. Vrabel was named the head coach on January 20 after coaching for the Houston Texans last year, where he was the defensive coordinator. He previously was the linebackers coached and then the defensive line coach at Ohio State.

Prior to that, he won three Super Bowls with the Patriots and retired from the NFL in 2010.

“I knew coach Vrabel just from watching the Patriots win a few Super Bowls and then when I was at Wisconsin, he was an assistant coach at Ohio State,” Marz said. “The other guys on the team, they’ve been with the Texans or they’ve crossed paths with him. It sounds like he’s a really good guy, he’s a defensive minded guy. It’s a little bit different than our previous coach [Mike Mularkey] because he was a former offensive player. It’ll be a little change of pace that way but I’ve heard good things and I’m looking forward to it.”

Photos courtesy of the Tennessee Titans Tyler Marz runs a drill at a Tennessee Titans’ practice last fall. Tennessee Titans Training Camp on August 9, 2017. Photos by Donn Jones Photography

As of now, Marz and the rest of the NFL are resting up a little but Marz is still doing his daily workouts. He’ll report to Organized Team Activities (OTAs) in April with the team and at that point things get a little more serious as the offseason progresses.

“We’re going to have our team meetings and lifts, a short practice,” he said. “August is kind of killer where we’re there from 7 in the morning until 9 or 10 at night. You have to be strong mentally with that.”

The NFL experience

Marz was added to the L.A. Chargers’ roster in September last year. He lasted seven weeks in the NFL but it wasn’t meant to be at the time.

He went back to Tennessee and continued to work on the practice squad. He didn’t play in any games nor did he dress for competition. But he got to be a part of the Sunday game plans and see even more of what it takes to compete on a weekly basis in the NFL.

He isn’t sure where his pro football journey will take him and his attitude is always positive, no matter what the situation is.

“It was good, this is a business and I might be having to bounce around a good amount and I understand that,” Marz said. “Being able to do that for the first time and being promoted to a 53-man roster was good, to be able to travel with the team and get underneath a new system and learn the playbook in a short amount of time, I think that was good for me. It was a good experience, but there’s still a lot of work for me to make the team this year. Hopefully it’s with the Titans and if not, hopefully it’s somewhere else.”

Marz’s experience on the 53-man roster meant he had to learn a new playbook on the fly and adjust to terminology and any other changes from his time with the Titans. He said it wasn’t overwhelming but it was still a lot to take in for a new guy coming in while the season is in progress.

“It was different, just because you’re trying to figure out the basics and trying to find out the most important information first,” he said. “You can’t retain a whole playbook in a day’s time so you just got to roll with it and learn what you can.”

While the playbooks may have been different, it still comes down to the basics for Marz and any player in the league.

“I think the big thing is knowing your assignments, coaches want you to be consistent with that,” Marz said. “They’re not going to put someone out there that they can’t trust, if you don’t know where you’re going and who you’re supposed to be going to, that’s the start of it. The second part of it is to be good enough to block the guy. I think I’ve gotten a lot better from Year 1 to Year 2.”

Getting ready for the 2018 season

While most professional sports deal with yearly contracts, the NFL is a bit different. At any time, a player can be cut and looking for a new team and Marz knows this. He’s hoping that with continued hard work and preparation he can make the Titans and be a part of a bright future.

“That was cool,” he said. “Just to sit there and watch the guys, I go to work with them every day and so I’m cheering for them. I was nervous just watching TV. But it was fun.

“When I got here, the two years previous they won five games total,” Marz said of the Titans. “I think having the NHL team doing well, that’s brought the town on,” Marz said. “We’re doing a lot more to promote ourselves and obviously winning games is the best way to do that. As long as we continue to do that, the fans are going to be behind us and making the playoffs is even better.”

He’s looking forward to what the team can accomplish in the future, starting with 2018.

“We were bummed to lose [to the Patriots], but to turn a team around in two years, that’s pretty impressive,” he said. “I think we can be even better, as long as we keep improving. There’ll be a little bit of a learning curve with the new coaching staff but that stuff happens and we’re all professionals. You got to pick it up and hopefully we’ll be a well-oiled machine.”