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Six Things That Stood Out

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Six Things That Stood Out for the Titans in Thursday Night's Preseason Opener vs the Ravens


BALTIMORE – The Titans lost to the Ravens 23-10 in the preseason opener here on Thursday night.

Here's a look at six things that stood out from the contest:

Malik's Debut

Malik Willis is going to be fun to watch. Heck, he already is. Despite some mistakes in his NFL debut, Willis did a lot of good things as well. His seven-yard touchdown run was a beauty, as Willis headed right before reversing field and getting into the end zone. Willis connected with Racey McMath on a deep ball for a 48-yard gain, and he made a sidearm throw that's already made the rounds on social media. Titans coach Mike Vrabel said he pulled Willis early because he didn't throw it enough. After the game, Willis admitted he relied on his legs a little too much. But hey, I thought it was a pretty good start for the rookie, who had plenty of fun. "It was cool," Willis said with a smile. "But you have to take everything one game at a time. I am just glad that I got the opportunity. I just have to look at the film and get better and understand what went wrong."

Woodside's 2-INT Night

Woodside entered camp as the favorite to be the team's No.2 QB behind starter Ryan Tannehill, and I don't think one shaky game derails that thought. Woodside was picked off twice on 24 throws – first on a ball he threw short to Terry Godwin, and later on a pass to Mason Kinsey that was deflected. Keep in mind Woodside was under duress a good part of the night, protected by offensive linemen further down on the depth chart and playing with receivers trying to make the back end of the roster. Yes, I know Willis was faced with similar scenarios. Woodside made no excuses after the game. He said he plans to watch the film, and he has to get better. "The guys did a good job," Woodside said. "I just let them down a little bit tonight. I just have to watch the film and get back to work."

Too Many Mistakes

I just mentioned Woodside's two picks. Running back Julius Chestnut also lost a fumble, and the Titans gave up too many plays on defense and had some penalties that hurt, including one that wiped out a long return by Godwin. Vrabel said that's all part of the preseason, and it's part of getting better. "It's a humbling game and we have a lot of work to do," Vrabel said. "I told them coming down that this was going to be a great challenge and a great test. Some guys showed up and some guys are going to need to go back home and get better."

Burks Makes Debut

First-round pick Treylon Burks also made his NFL debut on Thursday night. Burks didn't have a catch, but he did have a four-yard run after entering the game a few series in. For a moment, I thought Burks might end up with a touchdown. On a ball thrown by Woodside, Burks went up and nearly snagged it out of the air at the goal line. But the pass fell incomplete. "I was going out there to make a play for the football team," Burks said. "The defender made a good play on it. I just have to go out there next time and keep getting better." Burks said it was a good experience overall. "Words really can't explain it," Burks said of his debut. "I am honored to wear the Titans logo, and to represent the team. Just being able to play for the Titans is amazing."

Julius Bounces Back

A fumble on his second carry isn't how running back Julius Chestnut envisioned things starting out. But on Thursday night, Chesnut responded to the adversity in a positive manner. And, that's exactly why he was the team's starting running back vs the Ravens to begin with. "I think that was a great decision by [running backs coach] Tony [Dews] to keep him in there after the fumble," Vrabel said. "I felt like Julius earned it and earned the right to be the starter tonight. Those things will change. He fumbled early in training camp and came back and competed. I thought he ran hard and did some nice things." Chestnut, an undrafted free agent from Sacred Heard, finished the game with a team-high 44 rushing yards, including a 29-yard run. "I just try and come in every day and compete," Chestnut said. "After the fumble, I had to come back and have some good runs and the o-line helped me out."

Two-Sack Performance

Titans outside linebacker David Anenih finished the game in grand fashion. Anenih, an undrafted free agent from Houston, recorded a pair of sacks in the contest, along with four tackles and a forced fumble. Vrabel praised him after the game. "David has shown flashes," Vrabel said. "He's dropping some, and he's playing off the ball a little bit, just by necessity. But he has also improved and shown the ability to kind of flash on the edge. We'll have to keep putting him in those positions." Anenih appeared in 14 games for the Cougars in 2021, when he set career highs in tackles (30) and tackles for a loss (10). In three seasons, Anenih tallied 73 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and seven passes defensed. "I had a couple of good plays, but I think I can improve on some of my pass defense," Anenih said in the locker room. "Some plays I didn't do as well as I wanted to in stopping the run, so I could be more physical at certain points. There's a lot of improvement that I still need to make."

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