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Titans should play Malik Willis if Will Levis is sidelined

Mike Vrabel might be forced into making another quarterback decision

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Will Levis suffered a high-ankle sprain in Sunday’s defeat to the Houston Texans, according to multiple reports. Head coach Mike Vrabel said it was a similar injury to the one Ryan Tannehill suffered earlier this season. It puts Levis’ status for Sunday’s game with the Seattle Seahawks in serious doubt. If Levis is sidelined, the Titans should start Malik Willis, not Tannehill.

The Titans have officially been eliminated from postseason contention. They’re simply playing for pride and draft positioning while auditioning some talents for next season. Tannehill won’t be here in 2024 as his $34 million cap hit contract is scheduled to expire in a few weeks time. It’s possibly why Vrabel was non-committal when asked whether Tannehill or Willis would start in Levis’ place.

Tannehill may possess little interest in playing three meaningless games after being benched in favor of Levis. Tannehill has suffered two high-ankle sprains behind lackluster offensive lines over the previous year and a half. A failure to protect the quarterback has resulted in three high-ankle sprains now that Levis has suffered one of his own.

Tannehill (and his agent) must consider health a priority as he prepares for unrestricted free agency. Tannehill’s tenure in Tennessee has reached its conclusion. I’m not sure where Vrabel would land on this subject. Vrabel may expect Tannehill to be a professional and honor his contract. But as a players coach and former player himself that dealt with similar conflicts, it wouldn’t shock me if Vrabel understood and was sentimental to Tannehill’s predicament.

The Titans should play Levis if he’s healthy, by the way. The rookie quarterback remains a work in progress, as evident though a terrible interception thrown on Sunday. Levis requires live-game reps to experience the desired improvement. But a high-ankle sprain does indicate Levis will be sidelined.

Willis should receive the audition. Willis could attempt to play himself into the backup quarterback role in Tennessee or elsewhere next season.