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John DeShazier: Saints Coach Sean Payton expecting some wrinkles from Titans with new coaching staff

Mike Mularkey is team's interim coach after Ken Whisenhunt was fired Tuesday

The New Orleans Saints won't expect the unexpected from the Tennessee Titans in the wake of Tennessee's coaching change any more than they would have expected some unexpected if the Titans hadn't made a change at all.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired Tuesday, following his team's 1-6 start this season, and replaced by interim coach Mike Mularkey, who was assistant head coach/tight ends coach on Whisenhunt's staff. Whisenhunt was 3-20 in two seasons with the Titans.

Mularkey has previous head coaching experience. He was Buffalo's head coach from 2004-05, and Jacksonville's in 2012. His teams went 16-32 in the three seasons.

With Mularkey's offensive background – he mainly has coached tight ends and been an offensive coordinator – Saints Coach Sean Payton said that the Titans likely will experiment more in that phase.

"There have been a handful of example where all of a sudden, there's a new head coach, maybe he's on offense or he's on the defensive side of the ball. And you know what? There'll be some wrinkles," Payton said.

"There'll be some things that we haven't seen, just like there are every week. Only it comes from, in this case, Mike's got an offensive background. I'm sure there'll be some things he wants to do offensively. That would be fairly normal."

The Titans may be implementing those changes with rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota back in the lineup. Mariota, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, has missed the last two games with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

In the absence of Mariota (103 of 161 passes for 1,239 yards and nine touchdowns, with five interceptions, and 10 carries for 72 yards), former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger (49 for 74 for 421 yards and a touchdown, with three interceptions) started the last two games.

"We have to know the strengths and weaknesses and we have to have a plan in place that can handle one or the other," Payton said. "We're going to prepare for both of them and be prepared to play versus either one of them. There are some differences. We'll cover those and make sure we understand those."

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