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Updates from Week 4
Ryan Tannehill started and finished camp sharply without playing a single preseason snap. Camp practices concluded on Thursday, and Ryan Tannehill's cumulative completion percentage in team drills and 7-on-7 work was 68%. Tannehill explained his lack of need to play in the preseason finale, stating he felt he got enough work throughout practices. Tannehill looks ready for a bounce-back season and quickly developed chemistry with the new pass catchers.
Malik Willis continued to take steps forward and almost undoubtedly won the backup job over the last two weeks. He finished 15/23 for 130 yards, a touchdown, and an interception through the air in the finale against the Cardinals. He added 79 yards on the ground, flashing his elite athleticism and playmaking ability. Willis' growth is positive, with many, including Willis himself, surprised at the speed of his development. Willis won't challenge Tannehill for the starting role any time soon, but he could be a long-term option if he remains on this trajectory.
Derrick Henry looks explosive and ready to go for Week 1. The Titans previously held Henry out of team drills outside of a rep here or there, but Henry was fully incorporated as they aim to ramp up his workload to prepare for Week 1. He stood out, bursting through holes and looking like the Derrick Henry previously on track to run for 2,000 yards in back-to-back years before his foot injury. The offense will continue to run through him in 2022. Like Tannehill, Henry didn't log a single preseason game snap.
Behind Henry, Dontrell Hilliard impressed with more pass-catching work this week. Hilliard solidified his third-down role already but took just one carry for 14 yards in the team's preseason finale. Everything points to a two-back system, with neither Julius Chestnut nor Hassan Haskins pushing Henry or Hilliard for a meaningful role. Chestnut finished Saturday night with nine carries for 27 yards and a touchdown and looked like the better of the two running backs, indicating he may have beat out Haskins for the third-string role. Haskins finished with nine carries for 12 yards but added three catches for 17 yards.
While Treylon Burks was outperformed by his draft classmate Kyle Phillips throughout camp, he had an impressive preseason finale, snagging three balls for 33 yards and a touchdown. Burks had a quiet week of practice, leaving early Wednesday and missing Thursday before suiting up on Saturday.
Burks' performance came with Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, the Titans' No. 2 receiver, inactive. Westbrook-Ikhine has consistently performed well throughout camp and solidified himself behind Robert Woods atop the depth chart. Burks has the long-term upside, but the depth of his impact may come later in the year if Westbrook-Ikhine can continue churning out impressive play.
Robert Woods saw the field for his first preseason action Saturday night, hauling in just one catch for three yards and coming off the field after just a few snaps. It was a palate-wetting situation for Woods, with Saturday being his first action since tearing his ACL last fall. Woods is the Titans' No. 1 receiver and quickly built chemistry with Tannehill.
Early last week, Mike Vrabel asked the offense and defense to send out their "best two" for a 2-on-2 WR-CB drill. Woods and Kyle Philips were the two on offense. Philips strung together weeks of impressive play and will factor into the offense this year. He's likely confined to the slot, limiting his upside in an offense that prefers to run two-receiver sets, but the long-term outlook of the wide receiver room is promising. Philips also competed for and likely won the punt return job.
Austin Hooper had the quietest, yet arguably most consistent, camp for the Titans. Tannehill continued to find Hooper in 7-on-7 and team drills throughout the week, with sporadic yet consistent touchdown opportunities arising. Hooper could easily outperform his ADP of TE24 if Tannehill rebounds and the offense fires more efficiently in an offense that favors tight ends.
Chigoziem Okonkwo also continued his upward trajectory, catching three balls for 22 yards in the preseason finale, but becoming more active in team drills throughout the week. Okonkwo and Geoff Swaim have battled for the No. 2 tight end role, but all three will see snaps. Okonkwo is a valuable dynasty stash in leagues with taxi squads with Hooper on a one-year deal.
The secondary looks more solidified, with Caleb Farley taking the late lead for the No. 2 cornerback role over rookie Roger McCreary. The Titans have an abundance of riches when all are healthy, with Elijah Molden returning early in the week and assuming the starting slot role. Kevin Byard and Kristian Fulton were the two defensive backs sent out for the 2-on-2 drill mentioned above; they won the rep against Woods and Philips. The Titans' defense starts the season with the Giants, making them a viable final pick in fantasy drafts.
Dontrell Hilliard and Trenton Cannon are the only experienced returners for the Titans right now, but they're both more natural fits on kickoff returns. Rookie Kyle Philips, on the other hand, has earned the job as the team’s starting punt returner.
Updates from Week 3
Ryan Tannehill continues to shine in his second year in this iteration of the Titans' offense. His performance in joint practice on Thursday stood out, according to Jim Wyatt. He is completing 69.6% of his passes in 7-on-7 and team periods combined, dispersing the football among various targets. The Titans expect a bounce-back year, but the backup quarterback position is still important. Malik Willis earned more reps as the No. 2 quarterback following his impressive Week 1 performance, and he mostly struggled. Willis finished 7/17 for 80 yards and a touchdown, adding five carries for 42 yards. The flashes were impressive, as it looks like he moves at a different speed than others on the field. His strong arm was on display, as well. Logan Woodside threw his third interception in two games, making Willis the favorite to lock up the No. 2 role in the final preseason game.
Hassan Haskins turned heads with one run during joint practices. After a significant gain on Wednesday, he lowered his pads and finished his run violently, reminiscent of Derrick Henry. Vrabel challenged Haskins last week, desiring more decisiveness in his runs. Haskins looked like the game slowed down for him in the Week 2 game, taking 12 carries for 39 yards. Julius Chestnut, Haskins' primary competition for the No. 3 role, carried the ball ten times for 35 yards. Neither running back has separated from the other, and the final preseason game may determine who gets the nod in the event of a Henry injury.
Derrick Henry was again held out of the preseason game and saw limited work in team periods during joint practice. The Titans are exercising caution with his workload to ensure he's ready for the wear and tear of the season beginning in Week 1. Dontrell Hilliard was active for Saturday's preseason game, but he solidified his role as the third-down back in practice. Hilliard is a staple in third-and-long and obvious passing situations and could see a fantasy-relevant role in 2022.
"He goes rabbit hunting with a hammer." Those were Mike Vrabel's words on Kyle Philips, the standout rookie that continues to turn heads. Philips dominated 1-on-1s and was a significant factor in 7-on-7s and team periods, furthering the solid start of his career. Philips caught one ball for 11 yards in the team's preseason game, but it was an impressive toe-drag on the sideline. Philips saw four snaps with the starters but was one of just two pass catchers that earned a target. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was the other, catching one of his two targets for 21 yards.
Westbrook-Ikhine has continued to operate as the No. 2 receiver in camp behind Robert Woods, fending off Treylon Burks, Philips, and others competing for a role. Burks had another up-and-down week, leaving practice early on Wednesday before impressing on Thursday. He caught one ball for four yards, played into the fourth quarter with the second and third-team offense, and tweaked his leg. Burks ran wide open on one play, but Malik Willis failed to hit him on an underneath drag route. His inconsistent camp has been notable, and Philips' emergence could prove a difficulty for Burks' redraft value. Reggie Roberson Jr caught four balls for 47 yards in his first preseason action as he continued to push for a roster spot.
Chigoziem Okonkwo found the end zone in the first half of the contest on Saturday. After hanging in the pocket, Malik Willis zipped a throw to Okonkwo on the edge of the goal line, and Okonkwo plucked it out of the air. He continues to shine when given the opportunity and could eat into Geoff Swaim's reps as the No. 2 tight end. Austin Hooper quietly performs well in practice, earning targets, especially in 2-minute and red zone drills.
Corners Caleb Farley and Roger McCreary continue to duke it out for the No. 2 cornerback position. However, Elijah Molden's absence has given both a path onto the field early in the year. Farley has been more inconsistent but stands out more when locked in. The Titans have a good problem to deal with, with plenty of talent in their defensive backfield. The pass rush continues to impress, with David Anenih, Rashad Weaver, Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, and Da'Shawn Hand each logging a sack in Week 2. The Titans don't have big names down the depth chart, but they should continue to be an effective defense for fantasy.
There is a possible battle brewing at right tackle between second-year player Dillon Radunz and rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere (third round, Ohio State). Radunz has been with the first team throughout the offseason, but Petit-Frere has been stealing reps, little by little. The competition is a welcome change for this group; in the end, both could see real action. The left guard position has seen Aaron Brewer holding off Jamarco Jones. Jones has had a rough camp, fist-fighting with team captain Taylor Lewan. This group is exciting, but they only grade about average.
Updates from Week 2
Malik Willis put on a show on Thursday night, completing six of his eleven attempts for 107 yards while adding 38 yards and a score on the ground in his first preseason start. Willis had quietly strung together multiple strong practices, albeit with inconsistencies. With Ryan Tannehill held out, Willis got the start, showing off his playmaking ability and unleashing a pair of impressive deep balls to each sideline. Willis recently said he is lightyears ahead of where he was at the start of rookie minicamp, praising his coaches and teammates for assisting his development. That development showed on Thursday night, but Willis nor fellow backup quarterback Logan Woodside will present a threat to Ryan Tannehill's job. Woodside threw a pair of interceptions, furthering the notion of a battle for the No. 2 quarterback job. Woodside made quicker decisions despite the interceptions, and the offense functioned more similarly to the Tannehill iteration with him under center. The battle will continue throughout the preseason.
Julius Chestnut is making noise. After finally reeling off an impressive run early in the practice week, Chestnut got the start alongside Willis in the offensive backfield. After fumbling on a punchout early, he bounced back on the ensuing drive. He carried the ball seven times for 44 yards, with 28 coming on a run in which he broke multiple tackles. With Derrick Henry and Dontrell Hilliard inactive, Chestnut and Hassan Haskins saw an extended run. Haskins struggled running the football but flashed pass-catching potential and had a jaw-dropping blitz pick-up. Mike Vrabel recently challenged Haskins to become more decisive, and the lack of decisiveness was apparent with most of his carries Thursday night. Chestnut flashed good vision, finding cutback lanes on a couple of runs and looking better on a snap-to-snap basis. Vrabel praised his performance on Friday. Haskins played the entire game, indicating he may not be in the lead in the battle to be Henry's backup. Hilliard was a healthy inactive, along with most starters, indicating that his third-down role is still intact. Henry likely won't play this preseason, as load management is at the forefront of Vrabel's mind.
Kyle Philips continues to impress everyone, including his new quarterback. "I think that's what stands out immediately is his shiftiness. He's able to use his quickness, his lateral quickness, and change of direction to get himself open in a lot of different situations, a lot of different routes," Tannehill said of Philips. The two continued to form a connection, with the latter earning more first-team reps with each passing day. Meanwhile, Treylon Burks is showing that growth isn't always linear. Burks is on a performance rollercoaster, struggling in spurts, flashing the potential he possesses, and reverting to struggles in a constant back and forth. He's primarily working with Logan Woodside and the second team but is in the first-team rotation gathering high-value reps with Tannehill. Both players were quiet in the team's Week 1 preseason game, playing sparingly and seeing very few targets. Burks ran 19 routes and played deep into the fourth quarter.
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (pronounced "ih-keen-ay," for those wondering) is improving. His steadiness and familiarity make him the No. 2 wide receiver behind only Robert Woods. "Depth charts are written in sand... you've got to always prove that you're that guy," Westbrook-Ikhine said after the Titans released the first unofficial depth chart. Tannehill recently praised Westbrook-Ikhine's versatility and intelligence. While Burks and Philips are the flashy names, Westbrook-Ikhine continues to earn a more significant role. Both Woods and Westbrook-Ikhine were inactive this week. Racey McMath is standing out, and he was able to haul in one of Willis' two deep throws after an impressive adjustment to angle back toward the left sideline. McMath is among the slew of players pushing for the No. 4 role.
Austin Hooper and Geoff Swaim are the top two tight ends on the depth chart, but neither saw snaps on Thursday night. Chigoziem Okonkwo hauled in a catch for five yards. He is turning heads with athleticism and size and will likely rotate in with Hooper and Swaim when the regular season kicks off. He possesses the most upside of the group, but Hooper and Swaim currently have the blocking advantage. Briley Moore-McKinney caught two balls for fourteen yards in his return from injury. The team was excited about Moore's capability within the offense last preseason, and he is looking to earn a roster spot behind the three players mentioned above. Hooper remains the only fantasy-relevant option in the tight end room for now.
Randy Bullock hasn’t cooled off, as special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman said the kicker was “in a zone”, missing only three kicks since camp started. UDFA Caleb Shudak is still on the PUP list with a leg injury suffered in OTAs. This kicker competition never materialized.
The battle for the No. 2 cornerback spot is heating up, with Caleb Farley and Roger McCreary listed as co-starters on the team's first unofficial depth chart. McCreary turned in the best day of the two on Sunday but failed to practice on Monday and sat out Thursday. Outside linebacker Rashad Weaver had an impressive tackle for loss in the first half and will look to provide some necessary run-stuffing ability from the edge. Weaver will back up Bud Dupree and Harold Landry and rotate in specific packages. The defense continues to impress when healthy and in cohesion.
Dontrell Hilliard and Trenton Cannon are the only experienced returners for the Titans, but they're both more natural fits on kickoff returns, which leaves a wide-open battle for the punt return job. The most interesting name in the mix is rookie Treylon Burks, but while he's undeniably dangerous with the football in his hands, he's struggled a little on fielding punts cleanly.
Updates from Week 1
"I think he's been pretty decisive. I think he's been very accurate," Mike Vrabel said of Ryan Tannehill. The Titans' selection of Malik Willis raised some eyebrows around the league. Still, Tannehill is an extension of the head coach, and neither backup quarterback will challenge him for the starting job. During the first eight practices, according to Jim Wyatt, Tannehill was 83-of-114 (72.8%) with just one interception. Tannehill had his worst season since arriving in Tennessee, but he looks more comfortable in year two of the new offense. Fantasy managers excited for Malik Willis should temper expectations. His camp performance has been a rollercoaster, with some exciting plays he displayed in college mixing in with turnovers and lack of comfort with the offense. More reps and development are required, and Logan Woodside likely will remain the backup quarterback for 2022.
Derrick Henry lost a large chunk of his 2021 season, but that may be positive in the long term. He's looking even bulkier, and as an already physically imposing running back, that can only enhance the fear second-level players experience when trying to tackle him in the open field. Vrabel has dialed Henry back in team periods, presumably with the injury in mind, but Henry looks primed for the offense to once again operate through him. Behind Henry, Hassan Haskins has been garnering some attention. Vrabel challenged Haskins to become more decisive in his runs and understand that holes won't be there forever. Haskins has sometimes struggled with ball control, but he has been turning heads with his violent runs. Dontrell Hilliard has operated as the pass-catching back and should maintain a role in 2022. He is the primary back in two-minute drills and is primed to be the team's third-down back. The leash is still short with Henry, so how much of a role Hilliard will have during the season is still to be determined.
Robert Woods started slowly returning from a torn ACL near the midpoint of last season but is emerging as the Titans' top option more each day. While working through veteran rest days, Woods and Tannehill have developed some necessary chemistry, and the Titans are utilizing Woods at all three levels of the field. Meanwhile, Treylon Burks is performing well and staying on the field. GM Jon Robinson stated that Treylon Burks has "attacked the time" he's been back in the building. The conditioning issues from spring practices are largely a non-issue, and Burks has seen valuable time with the first-team offense. He's shown off his ability to make contested catches, thriving inside the hashes through difficult coverage. Burks isn't the only rookie working with the first-team offense, though. Kyle Philips is rotating into the slot during team drills, earning the respect of Ryan Tannehill and making the most of his opportunities. The team has maintained excitement for Philips, and he could reach the starting slot role as early as Week 1. Others vying for playing time at receiver include Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (who has been "consistently good," according to Jim Wyatt), Racey McMath, and Reggie Roberson Jr. Roberson and McMath have taken advantage of opportunities, with McMath operating as a field stretcher and Roberson operating underneath and in intermediate areas. There is genuine competition for the final few WR spots.
After signing a one-year deal earlier this summer, Austin Hooper has quietly turned in standout performances in his first (and potentially only) camp with the Titans. Ryan Tannehill has shown he's willing to trust him, and Hooper should keep a prominent role as both a red zone threat and critical blocker in the run game. At the same time, Hooper is attempting to mentor rookie Chigoziem Okonkwo. "It's been fun to work with him, really athletic, really hungry young player. Not lost on me, part of my role is to help him to the best of my ability, and that's something that I embrace," Hooper said of Okonkwo. Okonkwo was a standout in rookie minicamp and has once again flashed his athleticism and soft hands early in camp. Okonkwo will compete with Geoff Swaim for the No. 2 tight end role, though packages designed to take advantage of his athleticism may get him on the field either way.
Randy Bullock has been outstanding in camp with 8-of-9, 7-of-7, 8-of-8, and 9-of-10 days on field goal attempts. Caleb Shudak is still on the PUP list after hurting his kicking leg in OTAs, so the expected kicking battle never materialized. Shudak could get healthy in time to play in the preseason and show what he can do for another team, but it doesn’t look like he’ll get a chance to be the Titans kicker unless Bullock goes down before the season opener.
Kevin Byard is ready to continue leading the defense from the backfield. His ball skills have been on display, consistently coming up with pass breakups and interceptions early on. With a young, unproven cornerback room, the ability to create turnovers on the backend will be vital. Caleb Farley is almost back to total health, and the Titans added Roger McCreary to the mix in the NFL Draft. Kristian Fulton and Elijah Molden have secured two corner spots, but Farley and McCreary are battling for No. 2, outside cornerback role. Farley has had some highlight PBUs, but he and McCreary have both had moments of inconsistency. Outside linebacker Bud Dupree has displayed "more bend and pop off the ball," according to OLB coach Ryan Crow. If Dupree returns to the form he showed in Pittsburgh, the Titans could be one of the league's top edge rushing groups with Harold Landry in the fold. The Titans found success on defense in 2021 but look to improve into a top-ten unit in 2022.