Titans, Levis will bank on recent practices if he starts Sunday
If rookie quarterback Will Levis does indeed make his NFL debut by starting against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, he and the Titans will hope the last two weeks of practice have helped him make significant progress. Titans coach Mike Vrabel did not confirm an NFL Network report that the team is preparing Levis to start Sunday’s contest at Nissan Stadium, instead sticking to his guns by saying the team will monitor the ankle injury to Ryan Tannehill, and that — if Tannehill is unable to play — then both Levis and Malik Willis will see action against the Falcons. In fact, Vrabel threw an extra nugget into the speculation, elaborating on what the rotational plan might be if the Titans turn to their two young quarterbacks.
“We may run the plays in with them,” Vrabel said. “It could be by series. It could be every two series.
We could have certain things that we like. We’ll see, one, where Ryan is. But again, I’m excited that if Ryan can’t play, we’ll get a look at both those quarterbacks.
We’ll need both to help us win. ” The Titans have obviously seen more of Willis than Levis so far. Willis, the 2022 third-round draft pick, played in eight games last season, starting three.
He saw extensive action through the preseason, playing in all three games. Willis also stepped in when Tannehill was hurt in the Titans’ last game, playing the fourth quarter of Tennessee’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 15.
As for Levis, a second-round pick in April, he’s much more of an unknown quantity. A calf injury limited Levis to just one preseason game, and he hasn’t taken a snap in any of the Titans’ first six games — unable to play (as the team’s third quarterback) unless the first two quarterbacks were hurt. But that’s where the last two weeks of practice might prove very handy, both as an observational tool for the coaches and as a different type of learning experience for Levis.
With Tannehill injured and not practicing, both Levis and Willis were able to get reps with some of the Titans’ top receivers. In a regular week, those reps would go almost entirely to Tannehill, as Levis and Willis handled scout-team duties. “I think our bye week might look a little different than other teams,” Levis said.
“We stay [here] and we get a lot of work in. I think with the potential opportunity coming up, that was big for [Willis and me], to get reps with guys we haven’t had been able to have too many with to this point. So it was confidence building for sure.
” The more Levis gets to work with receivers like Treylon Burks, DeAndre Hopkins and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine in practice, the more he believes his comfort level increases with those players. “It’s been good, having to step up and helping some more with those expectations of what we’re expecting from each other,” Levis said. “The reps we’re getting with each other are very valuable and [I’m] looking to make the most of them, so they can pay off if the connection needs to happen on Sunday.
” The fact that Levis hasn’t taken a game snap since the Aug. 12 preseason contest is obviously a concern, but Levis does feel he’s made strides in the months since then. “Just comfort, getting used to this team, getting used to playing in this league and everything that comes with it,” Levis said.
“Just with every practice rep I get, whether it’s [scout] team or with the ones, trying to get the most out of it. All those reps have helped that out. Still a long way to go, but it’s definitely improved.
” Vrabel said it’s possible to see progress in players, specifically quarterbacks, even if they don’t play in games. “I think things change, things are always going to change,” Vrabel said. “How they execute the gameplan, the command of the huddle, formationally, operationally, and just the ability to deliver the ball on time and know where to go with the football--have an idea, anticipate throws, being smart with the football … all those things that lead to efficiency.