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NFL Preseason: Rookie QB Malik Willis shines in debut; Giants start Brian Daboll era on right foot

While the Baltimore Ravens won their 21st straight NFL preseason game Thursday night, the big story was Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Malik Willis.

BALTIMORE — While the Baltimore Ravens won their 21st straight NFL preseason game Thursday night, the big story was Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Malik Willis.

The Titans selected the quarterback from Liberty in the third round of the NFL Draft after being a first-round pick and at times a top-10 pick for much of the pre-NFL Draft offseason.

Willis finished 6-for-11 with 107 air yards and added a dynamic touchdown run with 38 yards rushing.

Locked On Titans podcast host Tyler Rowland joined Peter Bukowski on the Locked On Sports Today podcast to share his thoughts on Willis’ debut.

“I thought we saw everything we wanted to see from Malik Willis. He got the start in the game,” Rowland told Locked On Sports Today. “You saw the TD run away from Willis, he missed some guys, he managed the pressure in the pocket, that’s the mobility and the game you knew you could get from him. You also saw the arm strength on the 48-yard finish to Racey McMath… He gave you everything… You also saw some rookie mistakes. There are ups and downs. But the only 10 points the Titans scored was when Malik Willis was playing out there.”

While Malik Willis certainly wasn’t perfect, Rowland says you saw the reasons he should be the backup quarterback in Tennessee over current backup Logan Woodside.

“One of the big things I’ve talked about throughout the offseason is that the Titans feel a kind of misplaced loyalty to their current backup QB Logan Woodside, who just isn’t an NFL quarterback talent-wise,” Rowland said . He’s clearly a superior player to Logan Woodside. No, I don’t expect him to overtake Ryan Tannehill this year. But he should clearly be the second quarterback for the Tennessee Titans. And that gives them the opportunity to use it in some packs to take advantage of that mobility all year round.”

Rowland said being with Malik Willis in Tennessee is the perfect situation for him.

“Being in Tennessee is the perfect situation for Willis because he can use all the preseason replays and opportunities to get better and then it’s not like other high profile rookie quarterbacks, he doesn’t have to play as a freshman, he can sit and study . It’s a perfect match between a quarterback prospect and an NFL franchise.”

Locked On has a daily podcast covering EVERY NFL team, find yours today!

Giants start with preseason win

Meanwhile, in Thursday night’s other preseason game, the New York Giants began the Brian Daboll era with a win over the New England Patriots.

This marked the debut of Daboll’s Staff, as well as Daniel Jones’ debut in this new system. We also saw backup Tyrod Taylor play well in that game.

Locked On Giants host Patricia Traina spoke to Peter Bukowski on Locked On Sports Today about those debuts.

“As expected, they were very vanilla. All the pre-snap moves, the fancy looks that we saw in practice, we knew we wouldn’t see them in game because why would we put them there? This also applied to the defense. First-team offense was a bit mixed… Daniel Jones’ numbers probably could have been a little better if Kenny Golladay hadn’t had a red-zone drop, a touchdown should have been and they’d settled for a short field goal. Not what you want to see, especially from a team that has historically seen the red zone as a dead zone. Otherwise, Daniel Jones made good decisions and moved his feet when needed and there were no turnovers.”

We also saw Saquon Barkley back on the field after injuries sustained last season. He didn’t pull off much numerically with four rushes for 13 yards.

“He looked healthy and determined. There weren’t many opportunities for him to break one up, and the vanilla play calling kind of limited what he did. We’ve seen his runs to the stomach, which isn’t really his forte. We didn’t see any off tackle runs or misdirection runs that we saw in practice. It was just a chance for the coaching staff to get some confidence and see him get healthier and healthier.”

Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor also looked impressive. After Daniel Jones’ struggles in his early seasons, could there be a chance Taylor will eventually overtake him for the starting role?

“Tyrod Taylor is by far the best backup they’ve had in a while. But you have to remember that the Patriots haven’t played their starters. Jones and Taylor were both up against the backups and I think Tyrod Taylor got more snaps. His numbers would look a little better. Tyrod Taylor is an entry-level quarterback and should Jones ever go down, he’s a great option. Am I willing to say he’s the best QB in camp? I don’t think I would say that now. But as a backup option I feel much better with it than their previous backups.”

Locked On has a daily podcast covering EVERY NFL team, find yours today!

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/nfl/nfl-preseason-rookie-qb-malik-willis-shines-in-debut-giants-start-brian-daboll-era-on-right-foot/535-43b45c93-2070-475c-9337-5b2ec1b26044 NFL Preseason: Rookie QB Malik Willis shines in debut; Giants start Brian Daboll era on right foot

Emma Bowman

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