The Tennessee Titans opened the 2022 NFL preseason with a 23-10 loss at Baltimore on Thursday.
All of the talk during and after the contest, though, was not about the result. It was about the performance of young players, who got to showcase what they could do while many of the team’s starters remained in Nashville and watched along with the general public.
Here is a roundup of what coach Mike Vrabel and a number of Titans players had to say about the effort following the contest:
On rookie quarterback Malik Willis’ performance …
• Vrabel: “He needs to try to throw the ball when guys are open. Be more decisive, so we'll evaluate that and see if there is a timing issue or what's going on.”
• Willis: “I'm going to remember the things I should have done better. Like I said, it's a learning experience and you have to take it for what it is. It is preseason, but it's an opportunity and you have to try and continue to work and watch the film and keep on going."
• Quarterback Logan Woodside: “I told him to just trust his vision and make one play at a time."
• Vrabel: “He kept some plays alive with his legs. We just have to be able to combine some of that with making great decisions when guys are open and being decisive and accurate with the football."
On undrafted rookie Julius Chestnut, who lost a fumble in the first quarter but finished as the game’s leading rusher with 44 yards on seven carries …
• Vrabel: “I think that was a great decision by [running backs coach] Tony [Dews] to keep him in there after the fumble. I felt like Julius [Chestnut] earned it and earned the right to be the starter tonight.”
On the Ravens, who extended their preseason win streak to 21 games …
• Tight end Chig Okonkwo: “It was a very surreal experience. Just being out there under the lights in a big stadium. It was a lot of fun."
• Vrabel: “We know how good Baltimore is and how consistent they are and what they stand for. I told them coming down, 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."
On rookie outside linebacker David Anenih, who had two of the Titans’ three sacks plus a forced fumble and four tackles …
Vrabel: “David has shown flashes. 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: "I feel really good. A little nervous, first game and everything like that. I mean of course, you want to go out there and win, but I feel like there are things that I can do better, things I can get better as a defender as well. Overall, I just feel like we can get better as a defense."
On Willis’ 7-yard touchdown run …
Willis: “It was cool. It was check down on [Cover] Zero and I thought, this play might not work. So, you've got to do what you've got to do."
On what comes next …
Long snapper Morgan Cox: “We always look at games like this when we can improve on stuff. I think even myself, I'll look at my performance and look to fix some things that I did wrong."
Willis: “You have to take everything one day at a time. You don't know if you're going to wake up tomorrow. So, I'm glad I just got the opportunity today, and that's what I'll worry about today. When tomorrow comes, I'll worry about tomorrow.”
Vrabel: “It's a humbling game, and we have a lot of work to do. They're off tomorrow. We're still in training camp. We'll go back and go back to work, evaluate the team keys and find out if there are some guys that are trying to earn their way on to this football team."