Logan Woodside entered training camp in a position many probably didn’t at this time last summer. He was primed to be the Tennessee Titans backup quarterback.
But as the dog days of summer got into full swing, the Titans released seventh-round draft pick Cole McDonald and signed a seasoned verteran quarterback in Trevor Siemian. A starter in 25 games for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets, Siemian now could very well be the favorite as Ryan Tannehill’s No. 2, but, Titans coaches have explained, he won’t be handed the job..
This all could have frustrated Woodside. It could have derailed the progress that his teammates and coaches have raved about this offseason and into camp. Apparently, though, it has not changed a single thing about Woodside.
“He’s a real mentally tough guy, you know?” Titans quarterbacks coach Pat O’Hara said on Wednesday. “Like I have said before, we have challenged him in a lot of ways. He’s always responded well. I don’t think it affected him at all.”
Offensive coordinator Arthur Smith said on Monday that competition is what the Titans wanted, and Woodside certainly has the personality for a battle.
“… He's a very determined guy,” Smith said. “He works extremely hard preparing and that's what I really appreciate about him. He's consumed by it. I don't want to speak for Logan (Woodside), but he certainly embraced the opportunity to go try to compete and win a backup spot.”
The 25-year-old Woodside is no stranger to scraping and clawing his way.
In high school, Woodside had to transfer schools so he could play quarterback. At Toledo, he was beat out for the starting job twice and had to take a redshirt in his third year (2015) due to an injury.
Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Woodside was cut that summer and the Titans added him to their practice squad soon after. Earlier this year, he played in the Alliance of American Football and was the starter for the San Antonio franchise until that league folded.
Woodside appeared in all four of the Titans’ preseason games last summer. He completed more than 70 percent of his throws for 539 yards and two touchdowns. The fourth and final preseason games against the Chicago Bears was his best. In the 19-15 victory, he completed 17 of 24 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, finishing the game with a 104.4 passer rating.
His efforts were good enough for the Titans to keep Woodside around on the practice squad. An undisclosed arm injury, however, placed him on the practice squad injured reserve list.
While that too could have been discouraging, Woodside used last season as another learning experience.
He watched practices, games, tape and went through game plans with his teammates. Most importantly, he watched how Tannehill carried himself.
“... What time he gets in the building every day, how he takes care of his body, in the meetings he's also really very detailed in the routes and the plays that we have,” Woodside said earlier in training camp. “Just try to adapt and just kind of learn from him and that standpoint of, when to ask questions and it's OK to ask questions.”
While the backup quarterback competition between Simeian and Woodside will take shape sooner rather than later, it’s also another chance for Woodside to improve and grow.
Tannehill and Siemian combined have 62 wins as starters (Tannehill has 49 of them). The pair have also thrown a combined 175 touchdown passes.
Woodside, on the other hand, has not played in a regular season game.
“Whenever you surround yourself with veterans that have been playing and know the game, it only helps,” O’Hara said. “I have told you guys before, we have a lot of dialogues daily … philosophically about football or playing the position. We spend a lot of time here doing that. It can’t hurt.
“It really helps that Trevor is a really good dude. I am glad he’s here. Logan’s glad he’s here. So is Ryan. It’s a good room.”
The COVID-19 pandemic will encourage clubs to keep three quarterbacks on the roster, but teams must cut from 80 players to 53 by 3 p.m. (CDT) on Sept. 5. That is nine days before the Titans’ Sept. 14 opener in Denver.
It is not clear whether the Tennessee intends to keep two quarterbacks, as it did last season, or go with three. What is certain is that Woodside won’t waver.
“It’s [Woodside’s experiences] have made him mentally tough, which is a trait you have to have when you play quarterback in the NFL, really any position,” O’Hara said. “… There are a lot of different things that come at you on the field, but off the field. It’s a critical position that is criticized.
“He’s really battled for everything he’s had to get over the years. … He’s a tough, competitive guy who works extremely hard. Now, he’s put himself in a position to compete to be our backup. The rest remains to be seen.”