Grading Malik Willis and the rest of the Tennessee Titans in preseason loss to Ravens

·3 min read

Players fighting for spots on the Tennessee Titans' roster had their first shot to prove themselves against an opponent Thursday, as the Titans traveled to Baltimore for their first preseason game.

Here's who stood out — and who struggled — in the Titans' 23-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Offense: C-

Rookie quarterback Malik Willis has shown flashes of success this offseason. They're just too few and far between.

Such is to be expected from the rookie, who is still adjusting to the Titans' pocket-passing offensive style after spending his college career making plays with his feet at Liberty.

Throughout Titans training camp, Willis has shown off the creativity and playmaking ability that intrigued the Titans ahead of the NFL draft, but his indecision has hindered his progress.

The same was true Thursday, as Willis often struggled to find his receivers downfield. When he did find his receivers, Willis frequently held onto the ball too long, putting the ball in dangerous positions or eating valuable time off the clock.

Willis made one deep throw to receiver Racey McMath in the first half for a 48-yard gain, but he held onto the ball longer than he needed to. Had McMath not burned his defender near the line of scrimmage, the play might have ended differently.

The Titans offense went three-and-out on two of its first three drives. In between those drives, Julius Chestnut fumbled it on Tennessee's 22-yard line to set up an easy touchdown for the Ravens.

Willis wasn't perfect — though he showed off his playmaking ability on the Titans' first score of the day — but neither was backup quarterback Logan Woodside. He entered the game late in the third quarter and quickly threw and interception, setting up a 25-yard field goal for the Ravens' Justin Tucker.

Woodside threw two more interceptions in the fourth quarter.

Chestnut was Tennessee's leading rusher with 44 yards on seven carries. McMath's lone catch for 48 yards led all Titans receivers.

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Defense: B-

The Titans allowed just 10 points fewer than they surrendered across all three preseason games last season.

Their performance Thursday left much to be desired despite the presence of a few first-string players to open the game. Titans coach Mike Vrabel opted to start corners Kristian Fulton and Caleb Farley, both listed first on the unofficial depth chart released Monday.

The pair only appeared for a short time before Chris Jackson and Shakur Brown took over. But Jackson limped off the field and was later ruled out after Baltimore receiver Shamar Bridges landed on top of him while hauling in the Ravens' second touchdown of the day.

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The Titans' secondary allowed 268 yards passing.

The front seven fared marginally better, giving up 130 yards rushing. Linebacker David Anenih forced a fumble with under two minutes left in the game.

Special teams: B+

Kyle Philips was back to return all four punts against Baltimore. After averaging 22.6 yards per return last season at UCLA, Philips returned two punts for an average of eight yards per return Thursday. The other two Baltimore punts landed out of bounds.

Place kicker Randy Bullock was perfect, hitting on one extra point and one 33-yard field goal.

Punters Brett Kern and Ryan Stonehouse split time punting. The Titans allowed one Baltimore punt return for 27 yards.

Emma Healy is a sports reporting intern for The Tennessean. Contact her at ehealy@gannett.com or follow her on Twitter @_EmmaHealy_.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Grading Malik Willis, Tennessee Titans in preseason loss to Ravens