- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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As Marc Mariani looked at his shattered leg, he wondered if the kick return on which he got hurt against Arizona was his last moment as a football player.
Once he settled down, writes Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, he asked for a cell phone and called his mom.
Four days after surgery repaired both bones in his lower left leg, the Titans return man and receiver said he’s looked at the play on YouTube.
“I felt it when I got stepped on, and I knew it hurt, I knew it wasn’t right,” Mariani told Wyatt. “And when I was laying on the ground is when I reached down and looked at, and I saw it and it was obviously crooked. And then the reaction by some of the other guys -- that’s when I knew it was gone. I felt it, and grabbed it and it kind of flopped over, and that was beyond painful.
“... It was a scary feeling. Your ankle is not supposed to look like that.’’
He jokes about a picture that shows his ankle flopping awkwardly but the ball is still secure in his hands.
Will a lengthy recovery give him back the sort of lateral movement needed to be an NFL return man? We can’t say. I know he will do everything he can to return.
But his job as a low-ranking receiver and return man is a narrow one. If Darius Reynaud is an effective replacement returning punts and kicks, and if Mariani’s not ready at the start of camp or the 2013 season, it could be hard for him to ever get his job back.
A seventh-round pick out of Montana in 2010, he was an NFL underdog from the start.
It won’t be new territory for him this time.
“It is a bummer and it is devastating that my year ended so soon,” Mariani said. “... But I am definitely not going to get down on myself. I am going to have full optimism and full confidence that it’s going to be back 100 percent. My plan is to get back on the field.”