The Tennessee Titans play their first preseason game against the Chicago Bears on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Mike Vrabel and acting head coach Terrell Williams both declined opportunities to name a starting quarterback. Although you never want to read too much into the preseason, we’ve swiftly identified five position battles we’ll be analyzing.
No. 2 Quarterback
We may not know which quarterback will start, but we do expect both Malik Willis and Will Levis to feature heavily. We anticipate Willis receiving the start, but perhaps Vrabel will surprise us. Now entering his sophomore campaign, Willis has flashed some necessary growth in the accuracy and decision-making departments this offseason. Levis is beginning to stack impressive practices, and has started eating into Willis’ workload with the second-team offense.
The battle to be Ryan Tannehill’s backup officially takes flight Saturday.
Caleb Shudak and Trey Wolff both went four-for-four (44, 38, 33, 26) during Thursday’s practice. The battle to be Tennessee’s starting kicker seems to be a tight-knit showdown. The preseason will likely separate the sophomore from the rookie. To date, Wolff has been more successful during the two-minute drill, which Shudak has struggled through. Shudak must prove capable of kicking in high-pressure situations.
Who will start at right tackle against the Bears may be Vrabel’s second-most pressing question besides quarterback. We anticipate that veteran tackle Chris Hubbard will receive the first opportunity. If so, who succeeds Hubbard? John Ojukwu and Jaelyn Duncan are also on the roster. As is the recently signed Justin Murray, who was curiously listed as the third-team right guard on the initial depth chart.
Hubbard could begin separating himself from the competition with a strong showing against pass rushers like former Titan DeMarcus Walker, and maybe Yannick Ngakoue, if he’s ready to play.
Jack Gibbens is beginning to separate himself from Monty Rice in the race to start next to Azeez Al-Shaair. Gibbens has consistently received first-team reps while Rice rotates into the lineup with the two’s. It signals disappointment for the third-year Rice, who’s currently being outdone by a sophomore undrafted free agent.
We expect Roger McCreary and Sean Murphy-Bunting to both feature at nickel throughout the regular season. Who are the alternative options? Elijah Molden and Chris Jackson have played there on occasion. Rookie defensive back Armani Marsh is an underrated candidate to monitor on Saturday for a 53-man roster spot. There’s a lot of unknown talent in this secondary, including Marsh, LJ Davis, Tyreque Jones, and Anthony Kendall.