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Marc Mariani has surgery after breaking tibia and fibula

Marc Mariani

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Marc Mariani waves to the crowd as he is taken off the field after injuring his left leg returning a punt against the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter of an NFL football preseason game on Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Joe Howell)


Titans receiver and returner Marc Mariani broke both his tibia and the fibula, the two bones of the lower leg, in Thursday night’s game against the Cardinals and was rushed to the hospital, where he had surgery.

Those on the field who saw the gruesome way that Mariani’s left leg bent under him were visibly shaken, and Titans coach Mike Munchak said afterward that it was difficult to endure.

“That’s something in football you don’t want to see, and it’s hard to see that and continue on with the game,” Munchak said.

Munchak praised Mariani as a player who had worked hard in the offseason to develop himself into an important player on the offense as well as special teams, where he has been a Pro Bowl return man.

“We saw him being a great role for that along with the return game,” Munchak said. “That’s a big loss for us.”

Mariani was a little-known player coming out of Montana in 2010, when former Titans coach Jeff Fisher decided to spend a seventh-round draft pick on him in part because Fisher’s son played at Montana and raved about Mariani as a teammate. But he has become the Titans’ primary returner on both punts and kickoffs over the last two seasons. He is now not expected to play at all this season.