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Tennesse Titans head coach Mike Vrabel made it abundantly clear what he wants out of rookie quarterback Malik Willis.
Vrabel wants Willis using his arm rather than his legs.
A hesitancy to comply forced Willis to take a seat in the third quarter of the Titans 23-10 preseason loss to Baltimore on Thursday night.
It’s not like Willis refused to air it out — he completed 6 of 11 passes for 107 yards — but it wasn’t enough for Vrabel, who sat the rookie in favor of backup Logan Woodside.
A former Liberty University quarterback, Willis didn’t find the end zone with any of his six completions, but he didn’t throw any picks either. He ended his rookie debut with a passer rating of 88.1. And at least for one play, demonstrated the cannon he has for a right arm.
Willis used his legs to scamper into the end zone for the Titans’ lone touchdown.
Still, Vrabel wasn’t liking what he was seeing from his rookie QB. The play that earned Willis a spot on the bench was a called pass play on second-and-4 from the Tennessee 37-yard line. When he didn’t see any options downfield, Willis legged it across midfield.
Though Willis’ performance generated plenty of social media buzz, Vrabel feels that Willis still has some work to do before the regular season gets underway.
“He needs to try and throw the ball when guys are open, be more decisive,” said Vrabel. “We’ll evaluate that.”
There’s still is a general feeling floating around that Willis needs more time to develop into an NFL-ready quarterback. Mike Vrabel seemingly agrees. But one thing is clear, he showed his immense potential on Thursday night.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle