What’s it prefer to be a rookie QB within the NFL? 119 minutes within the lifetime of Titans’ Malik Willis throughout coaching camp


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tom Brady isn’t right here. There’s no pomp and circumstance or barrage of reporters ready to seek out out when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB will inevitably return from his deliberate mid-training camp sabbatical. As an alternative, the Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans are able to duke it out in apply over the following two days to iron out the kinks of their respective packages.

It’s 9:31 a.m. CT on Wednesday, and rookie QB Malik Willis is stretching between tight finish Geoff Swaim and guard Nate Davis. The third-round decide is at the moment battling for the backup QB spot behind starter Ryan Tannehill. And if final week’s preseason opener in opposition to the Baltimore Ravens was any indication, Willis is operating away with the job in his battle with incumbent backup Logan Woodside.

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The lifetime of NFL rookie QB: 119 minutes following Malik Willis at Titans coaching camp

Willis, who garnered first-round buzz from notable NFL draft pundits, fell to the 86th general decide in April. He watched as just one QB was chosen within the first spherical, and two complete QBs had been drafted above him.

Regardless of standing out in the course of the week of Senior Bowl practices in Cellular, Ala., in February, Willis landed in a spot the place he gained’t begin a regular-season soccer recreation for a number of weeks — if not months — barring a serious harm to Tannehill.

However that’s okay. As Willis, regardless of his draft hype, was thought-about a long-term mission with immense upside who wanted time to regulate to the NFL after enjoying his school ball at Auburn and Liberty. So, with endurance on his facet, Willis is in the midst of his first NFL coaching camp, receiving backup reps whereas Tannehill works with the first-team offense.

On Wednesday, Professional Soccer Community adopted Willis’ each transfer to get a really feel for what a day of apply is like for the NFL rookie QB. With the extra intrigue of training in opposition to a unique protection, Willis was challenged in group reps.

Right here’s how Willis spent 119 minutes throughout a joint apply with the Bucs:

9:31 a.m.

Willis is stretching together with his helmet on with Swaim to his left and Davis to his proper. The rookie QB seems to be snug in his pre-practice routine as the remainder of the group will get able to face off in opposition to the Buccaneers in what will probably be a aggressive and environment friendly apply in Nashville.

9:34 a.m.

A whistle blows. Willis and his teammates encompass head coach Mike Vrabel, who provides closing directions for the joint apply. After the huddle is damaged, Willis and the offense head to the sphere closest to the Titans’ headquarters, whereas the Buccaneers bypass the center of the sphere and head to the sphere that’s furthest from the constructing.

9:37 a.m.

Willis is third in line for passing drills behind Tannehill and Woodside. The Titans’ coaches are engaged on the QBs’ potential to deal with stress within the pocket. Coaches and workers members are throwing towels and pushing pads into the faces of the QBs earlier than they launch a move. This drill shouldn’t be for the faint of coronary heart, because the coaches are pelting these signal-callers a number of occasions per rep earlier than a move is thrown.

Willis finally gets his shot to perform in the gauntlet of tossed things, and he seems to be cool and picked up as towels hit and/or whiz previous his helmet. He’s been via these drills all through the summer season, so that is nothing new.

9:40 a.m.

Following the passing drill, Willis and the QBs meet up with the operating backs who’ve been engaged on ball safety reps. The 2 place teams participate in handoff drills, as Tannehill and Willis change off after each rep to maintain the drill environment friendly from a time perspective.

9:43 a.m.

One other whistle blows, and a horn sounds. Each groups meet on the center subject for an overarching huddle. Each coaches, presumably, talk about their targets and pointers for the joint practices. Following a number of reviews of fights breaking out at varied joint practices this week, emphasizing the significance of an environment friendly apply is paramount for each groups.

Following the break of the huddle, the Titans’ offense returns to their major subject with the Buccaneers’ protection. The Titans’ protection heads to the alternative subject with the Buccaneers’ offense.

It’s time for 1-on-1 drills with vast receivers and defensive backs. The defensive linemen and offensive linemen are positioned on the alternative fields as nicely.

Willis and Tannehill are alternating tosses to wideouts, as Woodside takes reps because the QB throughout pass-rushing drills.

Willis’ first few passes find yourself on the bottom. First-round wideout Treylon Burks drops a ball from Willis with cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting in protection. Wideout Kyle Philips attracts a defensive move interference penalty from Bucs cornerback Kyler McMichael, however Willis and the receiver are unable to attach.

Ultimately, Willis is ready to join with wideout Reggie Roberson, who beat Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis with a nifty transfer over the center. The pair would join once more in opposition to Davis a number of performs later. This time, Davis had nice contested protection, however Roberson nonetheless hauled within the move. Willis additionally connects with wideout Mason Kinsey, who slithers past Bucs corner Dee Delaney on a double transfer over the center.

9:53 a.m.

Group drills are about to start. Future’s “The place Ya At” (that includes Drake) blasts via the audio system as Willis, Woodside, and the second- and third-team offense watch from the sidelines as Tannehill leads the beginning group in opposition to the Buccaneers’ protection.

Tannehill connects with Burks on a powerful connection down the sphere. Burks beats Bucs cornerback Tre Avery on a slot fade down the seam to finish the primary spherical of first-team 11-on-11 work. Willis and the second-team offense take the sphere.

Following a handoff, Willis hits wideout Nick Westbrook-Ikhine on a rollout toss to the correct. A number of beats later, Willis is again on the sideline whereas Tannehill leads the cost. The QB1 connects with wideout Racey McMath on a bounce ball over nice protection by Bucs cornerback Zyon McCollum.

As McMath comes down with the ball, Burks walks off the sphere with a coach.

10:01 a.m.

The Bucs and Titans are nonetheless battling in 11-on-11 drills, with Willis watching Woodside lead the third-team offense. Woodside is picked off by Bucs security Chris Cooper over the center.

10:04 a.m.

The whistle blows, and it’s time for special-teams work. Willis and his offensive teammates await 7-on-7 work.

10:10 a.m.

Again to group drills, with out linemen, and Tannehill has already had a number of tosses, together with an over-the-middle strike to tight finish Austin Hooper.

Willis is now in cost, and he connects on three consecutive quick passes to Swaim, receiver Cody Hollister, and operating again Trenton Cannon.

10:18 a.m.

Willis takes on his second spherical of 7-on-7 drills. This spherical isn’t as sharp because the earlier one, as Willis is struggling to seek out open receivers and is holding onto the ball for too lengthy. After apply, Willis admitted as a lot.

“I’ve been making an attempt to not run in any respect at apply,” Willis informed PFN. “I do know I can run. I’m simply specializing in my pocket presence and climbing, and simply having the ability to let that factor rip after I need to, and never simply because I see an open hole, take off.”

After holding the ball for roughly seven seconds, he lastly hits Hollister over the center for a pointless(?) completion. Willis then fires a laser to operating again Julius Chestnut, however the ball ricochets off his fingers for an incompletion within the flat. On the following toss, Willis targets Cannon, however the ball hits off his knee as he jumps for it, and it falls incomplete once more.

The horn blows after the 2 consecutive drops.

10:22 a.m.

Willis and the QBs run to the alternative finish zone from the drills they’d beforehand labored on for a cooldown session. Willis takes his helmet off and wipes sweat from his forehead earlier than jogging over to Titans QBs coach Pat O’Hara.

For a number of minutes, Willis is positioned to O’Hara’s proper, whereas Woodside is on the coach’s left facet in the course of the drills.

The group drills restart, and Willis and Woodside are nonetheless bookending their place coach as Tannehill connects with Hollister over the center of the sphere on a powerful throw. Willis claps enthusiastically for his teammates’ success.

10:27 a.m.

What's it like to be a rookie QB in the NFL? 119 minutes in the life of Titans' Malik Willis during training camp
Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis (7) throws a move throughout a coaching camp apply at Ascension Saint Thomas Sports activities Park Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.

Willis will get one other shot at 11-on-11 work. He takes the primary snap below heart from lineman Corey Levin and fires a laser via the fingers of McMath. Willis takes one other snap below heart and fingers the ball off to operating again Hassan Haskins, who runs north to south via a pile of our bodies.

Willis’ third rep is actually a illustration of his whole day in group drills. The Buccaneers virtually instantly swarm the QB after he receives a snap from the shotgun, and following a transparent would-be sack, Willis takes off for 3 yards and slides.

“Simply since you’re operating doesn’t imply you need to be a operating again,” Willis stated with a smile. “I performed baseball my complete life. It wasn’t that onerous [to slide].”

On the following play, related outcomes. Bucs outdoors linebacker Anthony Nelson virtually instantly will get previous a blocker to get in Willis’ face. With a would-be sack acknowledged, Willis heaves a ball down the sphere for an additional incomplete move.

“Making errors in apply is what you need to do,” Willis stated. “That’s the one approach you’re going to be taught from it. Should you assume you’re excellent since you don’t make a mistake in apply, then you definitely’re by no means going to be taught for when that scenario occurs in a recreation. You gained’t know what to do.”

Willis instantly heads to O’Hara on the sideline, and so they seemingly go during the last play, utilizing their arms to copy the trajectory of a route or Willis’ move.

10:27 a.m.

With Tannehill working in group drills, Willis and Woodside toss the ball to remain unfastened on the sideline. Throughout this recreation of catch, Tannehill tosses a ball over the center, and it’s intercepted by Bucs linebacker Devin White, who returns the ball to close the place Willis and Woodside are enjoying catch by the alternative finish zone.

Woodside heads again to the huddle and leads the offense. After a few performs, Titans offensive deal with Christian DiLauro limps off the sphere with the assistance of trainers. DiLauro’s harm doesn’t stunt the offense, as Woodside instantly connects with tight finish Chig Okonkwo over the center.

10:37 a.m.

Willis and Woodside get one other recreation of catch in. Tannehill is again in group drills, and he connects with wideout Kyle Philips on an out route. Willis applauds in approval. The horn sounds once more, and Willis heads again to O’Hara to talk.

10:40 a.m.

O’Hara and Willis are locked right into a dialog throughout field-goal drills. After a couple of minutes of chatter between the QB and coach, wideout Terry Godwin comes by to verify in with Willis, and so they share an aggressive excessive 5, with the slap being heard all through the ability (good acoustics?).

A coach fingers Willis a brand new towel, and the rookie QB heads over to Woodside and Tannehill.

10:44 a.m.

One other whistle blows, and the Titans’ offense heads to the sideline to observe special-teams protection drills within the heart subject. Willis chats with McMath, cornerback Elijah Molden, and security Kevin Byard because the drills happen.

Ultimately, Willis leaves the dialog, grabs a water bottle, takes a sip, after which jogs to his fellow QBs on the adjoining subject with a smile on his face. Willis then takes half in a person throwing session with a member of the workers. Tannehill and Woodside ultimately take part.

10:51 a.m.

That freaking horn goes off once more. Each groups jogged to the sphere closest to the ability. Willis fist bumps Levin and chats with Woodside on the sideline whereas the first-team prepares for 11-on-11 two-minute drills.

11:00 a.m.

Because the Buccaneers’ offense faces off in opposition to the Titans’ protection, Willis chats with offensive coordinator Todd Downing and wideout Robert Woods. Ultimately, Willis and Woodside get unfastened with one other recreation of catch.

11:05 a.m.

Willis heads onto the sphere for his third session of 11-on-11 work, however this time, it’s all below stress due to the two-minute drill. With an offensive line that options Jalen McKenzie at left deal with, Willie Wright at left guard, Corey Levin at heart, Hayden Howerton at proper guard, and Nicholas Petit-Frere at proper deal with, Willis struggles.

First, after being flushed from the pocket, Willis scrambles for a brief achieve. He then hits Okonkwo close to the sideline. The playmaker will get out of bounds to cease the clock.

On the following snap, Willis struggles to seek out open wideouts, and he’s sacked by the combo of Bucs defensive lineman Willington Previlon and linebacker Andre Anthony. The clock is stopped at 40 seconds.

Willis bounces again with a move to Hollister down the seam. Nonetheless, on the following play, Bucs cornerback Dee Delany breaks up a move to Okonkwo, and the drive ends. Willis heads again to the sideline to talk with Woodside.

“That’s why we do these [joint practices], and why we needed [Willis] on the market,” Vrabel stated after apply. “The look adjustments post-snap, and that’s what good defenses do. He’ll need to see that, and he’ll have to acknowledge, and we’ll simply need to get him ready for the following scenario.”

11:17 a.m.

Bucs linebacker Ok.J. Britt has simply been helped inside by trainers. Willis is catching up with O’Hara once more. The pair have been inseparable for many of apply.

These chats throughout drills are “most likely extra vital than a number of the reps themselves since you get to see the conceptual view, and also you get to see each side view of what the offense and protection are doing,” Willis stated. “I hear the play the offense is doing, after which I see what the protection is doing, and then you definitely see how they’re making an attempt to cease no matter we’re doing. And that’s only a psychological rep, and also you see how that performs out. You retain doing that, after which you may have loads of totally different outcomes on the identical play.”

Willis watches Woodside’s group drills intently close to the sideline. He watches Woodside join with Okonkwo in site visitors, and Willis places his fingers up in celebration of the connection.

11:22 a.m.

Willis is chatting with Woods once more as the ultimate horn blows. Each groups separate to their respective huddles to shut out the exercise.

Following the break of the huddles, Willis is met by a number of members of the Buccaneers’ workers. He additionally chats with Bucs cornerback Jamal Dean and Titans cornerback Roger McCreary. All three gamers performed collectively at Auburn earlier than Willis transferred to Liberty.

11:30 a.m.

Willis speaks with PFN in a 1-on-1 chat to go over apply. The rookie QB admits he made some errors and the adjustment of enjoying a brand new protection in apply led to some struggles. Nonetheless, Willis is smiling brightly after a aggressive apply with the Bucs. He loved the change of tempo in the midst of camp.

“I just like the competitiveness of [joint practice],” Willis stated. “The opposite group might be one of the best half when it comes right down to it. You go in opposition to your teammates daily for all today of camp, and now you may have one other group are available, and you’ll simply compete.”

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