Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Malik Willis got his first taste of the NFL Thursday night, starting under center in the team’s first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.
It only took just over a half of play for Willis to flash his dual-threat ability, although he started out slow. Willis admitted he missed some things and relied on his legs, noting that he needed to play better.
“I mean, you’ve got a lot to learn from, a lot to look at on film, so I guess it’s really cool to get out there again and play football,” Willis said after the Titans’ 23-10 defeat, via NFL.com. “You know, I missed some things, probably, and I just made up for it with my legs and continued to rely on that, but that’s what preseason is for. So you just see those things against a live defense, one we hadn’t played before. … You gotta look at the film, check it for what it’s worth, and continue to work. I mean, we’re in the middle of camp.”
Willis Flashes Potential in Tennessee Titans’ Preseason Opener
Tennessee’s offense was stuck in neutral on their first three drives. Willis was off the mark on his first three throws, before running back Julius Chestnut fumbled away their next possession. Willis then led the Titans to a three-and-out on their third drive.
But it was the fourth drive where Willis started to put it together. Willis and the offense embarked on a seven-play, 72-yard scoring drive, capped off by Willis. Hounded off the snap by Baltimore’s front, Willis escaped with his feet and took it in for six.
The score seemed to give Willis confidence. On the following drive, he made the play of the night — uncorking a 48-yard completion downfield to receiver Racey McMath. Less than two minutes later, Willis did his best Patrick Mahomes, sidearm tossing one to tight end Tommy Hudson for a first-down. Willis finished 6-of-11 for 107 yards, adding 38 yards and a score on the ground.
What Did Mike Vrabel Think of Malik Willis’ Performance?
Titans head coach Mike Vrabel was blunt after the game, despite the splash plays Willis made. Vrabel said he wants to see Willis be more decisive and make the right decisions with the football.
“I think it was OK,” Vrabel said of Willis’ performance. “There were some sloppy stuff, but he got us into the right plays and it probably comes down to execution. It’s different; it’s a new experience for all of these guys. We’ve got a lot of rookies on this team, and there’s going to be a lot of guys that will continue to develop and get better. Just want to make sure that they’re 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.
“That’s why we have these preseason games. That’s why I wanted to put him out there. That’s why I wanted him to take the ball, to put him in those situations. That’s the only way you can grow. He kept some plays alive with his legs, and we just have to be able to combine some of that with making great decisions when guys are open and being decisive and accurate with the football.”