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Malik Willis gets first NFL start after Ryan Tannehill injury to Titans

Malik Willis gets first NFL start after Ryan Tannehill injury to Titans

Malik Willis is about to have an earlier than expected chance to make the NFL regret its weekend downfall.

With Titans starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill ruled out Sunday against the Texans, rookie Willis is in line to make his first career start. Tannehill missed practices during the week with an ankle injury, then was diagnosed with an illness on Friday which also sidelined him for Saturday’s walkthrough.

Although considered a developmental draft as he made the leap from Liberty to the NFL, the big-armed Willis was a consensus first-round pick by media pundits last spring. Teams obviously felt differently when the going got tough. For only the third time in the last 30 years, only one quarterback – Kenny Pickett of the Steelers at the No. 20 pick – has been drafted in the first two rounds.

Malik Willis will make his first start for the Titans on Sunday.
Getty Images
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill wears a toe boot during a press conference following the Titans’ game against the Colts last week.
PA

The Falcons ended a 53-pick drought by taking Desmond Ridder at No. 74, making Willis wait a bit longer until he moved up to 86th. Willis completed 1 of 4 passes for six yards and rushed four times for 16 yards in his NFL debut, on cleanup duty in a 41-7 loss to the Bills in Week 2.

Tannehill, who led the Titans to four straight wins after an 0-2 start, will not make the trip to Houston. Quarterback Logan Woodside will be a practice squad game-day elevation to support Willis.

“I think it went pretty well,” Willis said after Friday’s practice. “Just being prepared is probably my best bet, and I tried to do that to the best of my abilities.”

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