Marc Mariani Injury: Titans Return Man Suffers Broken Leg vs. Cardinals

Tim KeeneyContributor IAugust 23, 2012

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 17:  Wide receiver Marc Mariani #83 of the Tennessee Titans returns a kick against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFL preseason game August 17, 2012 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

This is why most people hate the NFL preseason.

In the first quarter of Thursday night's matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans, third-year wide receiver Marc Mariani fielded a seemingly harmless punt from the Cardinals

Then disaster struck. 

Mariani took an awkward hit to the leg, and as the replay was shown, it was immediately apparent that something was broken. Badly. 

Trainers immediately took to the field, put an air cast on his leg and carried him off on a stretcher, more signs to expect the worst. Moments later, the dreaded news was confirmed (via The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt):

#Titans confirm broken left leg for Mariani

— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) August 24, 2012

And from the looks of it (if you didn't witness the replay, and if you're brave, you can find the picture here. Proceed with caution, though), Mariani won't fully recover anytime soon. 

Mariani isn't a star by any means, but he's an important role player.

The former Montana star may have only caught five passes for 24 yards last season, but he returned 46 punts for 490 yards and a touchdown and 32 kickoffs for 748 yards. During his brief two-year career, he has already returned a total of over 150 kicks for more than 3,000 total yards.

But Mariani isn't just one of the more consistent returners in the NFL, as he was starting to show signs of being a potentially dependable slot guy on offense.

For a Titans squad that has so little consistency in the receiving corps, this isn't just a brutal-looking injury. It also hurts Tennessee's depth chart.