Titans' QB play told us more about Logan Woodside than Malik Willis

Malik Willis reversed course in the backfield and ran for a 7-yard touchdown and threw a 48-yard strike to Racey McMath on a botched coverage in Baltimore during a 23-10 Titans’ loss to the Ravens.

The third-round rookie also made a nice sidearm throw to Tommy Hudson while rolling out to avoid linebacker Malik Harrison.

So Willis had some highlights in two-and-a-half quarters of work in his preseason debut, the Ravens' 21st consecutive preseason win.

Malik Willis

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It was an OK start for the rookie QB but even those good moments lacked the electricity the team anticipates he will ultimately bring and there really weren’t many other signs of it. He hit on six of 11 attempts for 107 yards while taking two sacks and he ran five times for 38 yards and the touchdown.

His coach was not satisfied with the QB's unwillingness to throw it.

“It’s different, it’s a new experience for all these guys, we’ve got a lot of rookies on this team and there are going to be a lot of guys who will continue to develop and get better,” Mike Vrabel told the media in Baltimore. “We just want to make sure that they are competing each and every day and they understand how difficult this league is, especially as a young quarterback, to step back in there with a live rush and seeing coverage….

"He kept some plays alive with his legs. We just have to be able to combine some of that with making some great decisions when guys are open and being decisive and accurate with the football.”

More telling, perhaps, was the lifeless showing by Logan Woodside, who took over midway through the third quarter in the middle of a series.

“I wanted Malik to throw the ball and he wasn’t, so I put Logan in,” Vrabel said of a move that was coming eventually.

“I probably ran it a little bit more than I threw it tonight, that’s why we’ve got to look at the film,” Willis said. “…You've just got to know when you need it and when you don't got to have it. That's what this whole process is about.... It's about learning when to use what.”

Woodside quickly threw a terrible interception to corner Daryl Worley near the goal line.

Target Terry Godwin wasn’t open, but a throw to him there required some air under it to give the receiver any sort of chance. Woodside’s attempt was the sort that should make anyone question why, no matter the level of trust the team has in him heading into a third year, his physical skills and decision-making would earn him that.

Pause the play above at release and there isn't really pressure. How is that throw going to win there?

Later the QB tried to give Treylon Burks a chance to make a play in the end zone, but again threw a flatter ball than the moment called for. Rather than seeing the Titans’ big rookie target go up and try to make a play we saw a relatively easy breakup.

What a chance -- a guy battling to hold on to his No. 2 job, throwing to a big first-round pick against fourth-quarter preseason defenders... and that's what he comes up with.

Woodside threw another pick on a ball across the middle for Mason Kinsey where one defender got a hand in and another corralled the deflection.

“You have to be able to go in there and process the group that you are in there (with),” Vrabel said of Woodside. “Normally it’s finding a guy that you are comfortable with. I think he was doing that with Mason. Contested catch that ends up getting intercepted. So there are going to be some things that he did well and certainly, the turnovers are going to be disappointing.”

Woodside had four throws to the end zone from the Baltimore 8-yard line at the very end of the game and couldn’t complete one, though he had a defender barreling down on him on the final one.

Sure, he may have faced more pressure, but if he knows things inside-out the way the team always talks about him, then he should better know what to do in the face of it.

His final numbers: 14 for 24 for 102 yards with a long of 12, no touchdowns, two interceptions, a passer rating of 33.7 and two sacks.

Woodside told Jim Wyatt: "There's one decision I wish I had back, that throw to Terry there. Other than that I tried to hang in there and make some throws, tried to put my best foot forward."

The offensive line: Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones and Nate Davis did not play.

We’ve not seen Jamarco Jones play any first-team left guard in practice, but he started there with Aaron Brewer at center.

“I just want to try to make sure that when we get to the regular season that I’m looking at eight guys that we are going to have (available) to play in the game,” Vrabel said. “I’m trying to figure out who can play where. Aaron has had a very consistent and a very competitive camp at left guard. I think Jamarco has practiced better lately and having Brew go in there at center to see if that’s something we want to do during the season.”

Corey Levin, the depth chart backup center to Ben Jones, played right guard. Daniel Munyer, who did not provide consistently good snaps, went on IR pretty early in camp.

Nicholas Petit-Frere started at right tackle with Dillon Radunz at left tackle.

The second group was, left-to-right, Christian DiLauro, Xavier Newman, Levin, Jordan Roos and NPF.

Special teams: Among guys with very prominent special teams’ roles were Trenton Cannon, Theo Jackson, Ola Odeniyi and Chance Campbell.

One surprise was Caleb Farley, who was part of one punt return and one kick return coverage snap.

I would not think the Titans would consider using a top cornerback in those roles, so perhaps the snaps were just an extra test and extra work for the second-year first-round pick.

Outburst: Titans undrafted rookie outside linebacker David Anenih has not made much noise at training camp practice. But late in the fourth quarter, the Houston product made up for that with a sack and a strip sack on consecutive plays.

He got $150,000 guaranteed when the Titans lured him after he did not get drafted, most of anyone in their undrafted class.

Vrabel said Anenih has played off the ball some by necessity so far.

“David has shown flashes,” Vrabel said. “He’s improved and he’s shown the ability to flash off the edge there so we’ll have to keep putting him in those positions.”

Injuries: Chris Jackson suffered a knee injury while trying to defend a Shemar Bridges touchdown catch in the third quarter and went to the locker room.

Tommy Hudson, Ola Odeniyi and Kevin Strong also suffered injuries and the severity of them was unclear.


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