Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Friday that the rookie made progress dealing with a knee injury, but the team will hold him out versus the Houston Texans.
Mariota practiced on a limited basis this week after sitting out last week’s loss, but Whisenhunt said the quarterback wasn’t able to get enough reps for the team to be comfortable playing him Sunday.
Zach Mettenberger will make the start.
The second-year signal caller is 0-7 as a starter for his career. In a Week 7 loss, Mettenberger went 22-of-35 passing for 62.9 percent, 187 yards (5.3 average), one touchdown and two interceptions. Last season in two losses versus the Texans, Mettenberger went 40-of-60 passing for 438 yards three touchdowns and two interceptions for a 94.0 passer rating.
With Mettenberger starting, we will get a rematch of last season’s Selfie Controversy. J.J. Watt mocked Mettenberger for posting selfies last season with a selfie pose after one of his two sacks of the quarterback in Week 8, 2014.
“It was kind of a reminder that this is the NFL, not high school. This is the National Football League. Welcome to the show,” Watt said after the game. “I take this game seriously,” Watt said. “If I were a rookie being named a starter for the first time, I’d be a little more focused. But we won the game. That’s all that matters.”
“J.J. had to say it’s a bit high school-ish that I take selfies and I think he still rags me on Instagram every time he posts a selfie,” Mettenberger said at that time. “At the same time, if that’s high school-ish, he got a letterman jacket made, a Texans letterman jacket. That’s pretty high school-ish to me, don’t you think?”
Watt then responded on social media: “A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of a sheep. Time to attack the day.”
Watt has been dealing with a minor back injury this week, but Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Friday his star linebacker “looked ready to go” for Sunday. He was listed as questionable for the game.
With Mariota out, we’ll see if Watt and Mettenberger refuel their odd, childish back-and-forth.