Tennessee Titans Rookie Will Levis Prepares for Prime Time Debut Against Pittsburgh Steelers
By Turron Davenport, ESPN
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Will Levis has been putting in the extra work at the team facility, even on his off days, in preparation for his moment in the spotlight. The No. 33 pick of the 2023 draft has been honing his skills and building chemistry with his receivers, turning his off days into a “QB training program.”
The Titans coaching staff has been gradually bringing Levis along, splitting scout team reps with fellow quarterback Malik Willis, while observing starter Ryan Tannehill execute the offense. This program was designed to prepare Levis for the day he would be called upon. That day came in Week 8, when Levis led the Titans to victory over the Atlanta Falcons, and now he faces his biggest challenge yet as the Titans (3-4) take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (4-4) on Thursday night.
Levis was selected by the Titans after they traded up in the draft to secure the second pick of the second round. However, a left thigh injury during joint practices hindered his progress and allowed Willis to secure the backup role. But with Tannehill sidelined due to a right high ankle sprain, Levis was thrust into the starting position.
In his debut, Levis showcased his talent by completing 19 of 29 pass attempts for 238 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Titans to a 28-23 victory. This marked the most points the Titans had scored since the 2021 season finale, and Levis became only the third quarterback in NFL history to throw four touchdowns in his debut.
The bye week leading up to his first start proved beneficial for Levis, allowing him to prepare as a starter after a long period without live action. Coach Mike Vrabel had initially planned to split playing time between Levis and Willis if Tannehill was unable to go. During the bye week, Levis and Willis stayed at the facility, working on their chemistry with wide receiver Treylon Burks, who was returning from injury.
Levis’ preparation paid off, as he seamlessly led the offense on his first drive, gaining a first down with a quarterback sneak. However, a high snap mishap forced the Titans to rely on Levis for the majority of the game.
Vrabel had named Tannehill the starter before rookie minicamp, but left the door open for competition between Willis and Levis. Willis had previously won the backup job but struggled when given the opportunity to start. This season, Levis’ determination and the coaching staff’s innovative training methods have allowed both quarterbacks to develop and improve.
The Titans’ defense was not surprised by Levis’ success, as they had witnessed his talent during practice. Levis’ fearlessness and ability to make quick decisions impressed his teammates and coaches alike.
Levis’ understanding of the offense has grown, despite limited reps as the backup. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly had enough confidence in Levis to maintain a full game plan against the Falcons, a testament to Levis’ dedication and understanding of the playbook.
Levis’ attention to detail was evident in his connection with receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who scored three touchdowns in the game. Levis’ pump fake created an opening for Hopkins, showcasing his ability to execute game-like movements in practice.
As Levis prepares for his prime time debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he is excited to experience the electric atmosphere of a rowdy Steelers crowd. Regardless of the outcome, Levis is ready to embrace the challenge and showcase his skills on the national stage.
With Levis’ impressive debut and his continued development, the Titans have found a promising young quarterback who could potentially lead them to success in the future.