Imagine being a backup quarterback in the National Football League. Then imagine your first career pass attempt -- and completion -- coming on a fake punt.
For Logan Woodside, that is reality. The Tennessee Titans backup lived it in last Sunday’s 30-24 overtime victory at Baltimore.
With the Titans trailing the Ravens 14-7 late in the second quarter, Woodside made the play that kept a drive alive and put his name on the stat sheet. On fourth-and-7 from the Tennessee 49, Woodside lined up as the personal protector for punter Trevor Daniel, took a direct snap from Matt Overton, rolled out to his right and fired a strike to undrafted rookie wide receiver Nick Westrbook-Ikhine.
The play gained the necessary seven yards to put the offense back on the field. Ten plays later, kicker Stephen Gostkowski cashed in on a 40-yard field goal -- his first of three in the game.
Special teams coordinator Craig Auckerman said Woodside wanted to run the play no matter what. But the Titans needed a certain look. Even though the Ravens recognized that Woodside was on the field, the Titans still got the look they needed. From there, it was a matter of execution. That too worked out perfectly.
“What was different was they had 10 guys on the field,” Auckerman said this week. “One of their players recognized it and went over to the side. We still got the look that we wanted. What was great was the guys executed it, but they understood the details.
“You say it’s easy, Logan going and throwing the ball to Westbrook, a receiver whose job is to catch the ball. We ask Nick to do a certain thing for us and understand the details, and he did exactly what he was supposed to do. He came back to the ball. The throw was great. He caught it. We got the first down. It gave some life to us a little bit as a team.
“Everyone’s all excited for Logan.”
It’s been a long time coming for the 25-year-old, who the Cincinnati Bengals selected in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft following a record-setting collegiate career at Toledo.
While Woodside appeared in his first NFL regular season game in Week 10 in garbage time of a 34-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, he did not attempt a pass. His NFL experience thus far has been filled with only practice squad and preseason game repetitions.
Woodside spent three weeks on the Titans’ practice squad in September 2018 before being released. He then tried the Alliance of American Football. Before the league ceased operations in spring 2019, Woodside played in eight games for the San Antonio Commanders, completing 57.7 percent of his passes for 1,385 yards with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Soon thereafter, he returned to the Titans.
He had played in all four of Tennessee’s preseason contests in 2019 and completed more than 70 percent of his throws for 539 yards and two touchdowns. His best performance came when he played from start to finish in the preseason finale against the Chicago Bears. In the 19-15 victory, Woodside completed 17 of 24 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the game with a 104.4 passer rating.
The Titans kept Woodside on their practice squad last season, but an arm injury landed him on the injured reserve list all of the regular season.
In offseason workouts and training camp ahead of this season, Woodside earned the trust of his teammates and coaches en route to becoming Ryan Tannehill’s backup. Woodside was one of three Titans who earned offseason honors this year -- an award coaches give to players who show the most improvement and leadership during offseason workouts.
That confidence and trust is presumably higher now after his perfect execution of a fake punt, which proved to be important for the Titans in a crucial victory against the Ravens.
“I am sure he’s going to come in there all of the time with some fakes. He probably wants to play PP and go down there and tackle people too, which is great for his sake,” Auckerman said. “But, you know, we’ll continue to look and see what’s best for our team and whatever we can do to help the team win.”