Malik Willis made his preseason debut for the Tennessee Titans against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night, and Mike Vrabel did not seem pleased with the rookie’s performance.
Willis played the entire first half of Tennessee’s 23-10 loss. He also started the second half, but Vrabel pulled him after just two plays on the Titans’ first drive of the third quarter. When asked about the decision, Vrabel told reporters that Willis “needs to throw the ball more when guys are open.”
“We’ll evaluate that and see if it’s a timing issue or what’s going on,” Vrabel said, via Ben Arthur of the Tennessean. “But just wanted to get him out there and see how he responded. He did OK. There were some good plays and obviously some where we’re going to have to look at the timing of the release or if we’re making the right decision.”
Vrabel’s decision to remove Willis from the game came after the former Liberty star scrambled for 17 yards on 2nd-and-4, so the message from the coach seemed very clear. He acknowledged that Willis kept some plays alive with his legs but said the third-round pick needs to “combine some of that with making great decisions when guys are open and being decisive and accurate with the football.”
For his part, Willis admitted that he “missed some things.” He said he made up for the mistakes with his legs but that he cannot continue to rely on that part of his game.
Willis completed 6-of-11 passes for 107 yards. He added 38 yards and a touchdown on five carries. There were several moments where he showed off his athleticism, but he also held on to the ball too long at times. That is clearly something Vrabel wants Willis to work on.