With Tannehill sidelined with a sprained ankle, Levis started the Titans’ final two games. Selected 33rd overall in April’s draft after Tennessee traded for him, Levis made a splash in his debut, throwing four touchdown passes in a win over the Atlanta Falcons late last month. That was followed by less eye-popping numbers with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his overall performance in a short week in a challenging road environment was an encouraging sign of his ability to handle the rigors of the NFL game.
“There’s clearly something there,” Vrabel, in his sixth season as Tennessee’s coach, said of Levis. “We want to be able to continue to work with him, progress, develop and win, and that’s the only way you get better. “The only way you get better is to go out and play, especially at this position.”
Vrabel added that he is “hopeful” that Tannehill can recover sufficiently from his injury to serve as a reserve player this week.
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Tannehill, 35, is in the final year of his contract. A first-round pick of the Miami Dolphins — whose No. 8 selection in the 2012 draft was overshadowed by star quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III when they went 1-2 — Tannehill thrived in Tennessee after Marcus Mariota was traded early in the 2019 season . He took over a team that started 2-4 and led the Titans to a 7-3 record and a run to the AFC Championship Game, while leading the league in yards per attempt and earning Comeback Player of the Year honors secured. Overall, Tennessee posted a 38-23 record in Tannehill’s starts, with three postseason trips and two division titles.
“I have a lot of respect for Ryan, personally and professionally,” Vrabel said Tuesday. “We won a lot of games here with Ryan.”
However, there were signs last year that Tannehill had faded, and that continued this season. In the Titans’ first six games, he had six interceptions against two touchdown passes, with a passer rating of 71.9, the lowest of his career. When Tannehill was injured during an October 15 game in London against the Baltimore Ravens, he was replaced by Malik Willis, a second-year quarterback who had won the backup job in training camp. Tennessee then had its bye week, and when it returned to play, Vrabel had decided to give Levis, who missed training camp due to an injury, a chance to show what he could do.
Now Levis, who played at Kentucky after transferring from Penn State, will have the opportunity to test the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense, which was just attacked by Houston Texans rookie CJ Stroud. The second pick in the draft, Stroud threw for 470 yards, a record for a first-year quarterback, and five touchdown passes in a back-and-forth win over the Buccaneers.
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In addition to Levis and Stroud, the AFC South features Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson, the fourth pick this year, who had some highlight plays before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. 2021 No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence is already on the rise with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the long-pressured division is suddenly overflowing with exciting young talent at the game’s most important position.
Of course, Levis still needs to prove that he can build on, or at least maintain, the level of play he showed in his first two starts. Vrabel praised the rookie’s “good pocket presence and ability to move the offense.”
“It was impressive,” Tennessee wide receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine said said Tuesday of Levis’ play. “In it, of course [Falcons] Game, [he] lit it on fire, even last Thursday [vs. the Steelers] he had good composure. I feel like he was able to command the group pretty well and he showed he was willing to take his shot.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2023/11/07/titans-quarterback-will-levis-ryan-tannehill/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_homepage The Titans named Will Levis starting QB and demoted Ryan Tannehill to backup