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#pounditTuesday, January 31, 2023

Articles tagged: Tennessee Titans

Titans sign former 1st-round pick to practice squad

Takk McKinley smiles

Takk McKinley is making his way back into the NFL.

The Tennessee Titans signed McKinley to their practice squad, NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported on Friday.

McKinley was a first-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2017 out of UCLA. The pass-rusher had 17.5 sacks over four seasons with the Falcons. He played with the Browns last season but tore his Achilles tendon in Week 15, which likely made it difficult for him to find a new team this season.

McKinley visited with a few teams over the summer but did not sign until now.

McKinley, 26, had 18 tackles and a forced fumble in 11 games for Cleveland, including 2.5 sacks.

Jeffery Simmons, Rashad Weaver and Bud Dupree are the big pass-rushing threats on the Titans. Perhaps McKinley will help out in the rotation at some point later in the season.

Josh Gordon’s agent says ‘comeback continues’ with new team

Josh Gordon on the practice field

Jun 12, 2018; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon (12) leaves the field after minicamp at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Gordon has not made a significant impact in the NFL for several years, but the former Pro Bowler is determined to continue his playing career.

The Tennessee Titans have signed Gordon to their practice squad. Gordon was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this week, but his agents told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that “the comeback continues.”

Gordon caught just five passes in 12 games last season with the Chiefs.

Gordon has been suspended multiple times during his once-promising NFL career. His latest substance abuse setback came toward the end of the 2020 season when he was with the Seattle Seahawks. He had his conditional reinstatement rescinded and was suspended indefinitely at the time. The NFL once again reinstated him early last season after he completed another treatment program.

Now 31, Gordon will to try to prove his worth on Tennessee’s practice squad. The odds are still stacked against him.

Mike Vrabel had 1 big complaint about rookie Malik Willis

Mike Vrabel on the sidelines

Jan 11, 2020; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel against the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter in a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV/The Tennessean via USA TODAY NETWORK

Malik Willis made his preseason debut for the Tennessee Titans against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night, and Mike Vrabel did not seem pleased with the rookie’s performance.

Willis played the entire first half of Tennessee’s 23-10 loss. He also started the second half, but Vrabel pulled him after just two plays on the Titans’ first drive of the third quarter. When asked about the decision, Vrabel told reporters that Willis “needs to throw the ball more when guys are open.”

“We’ll evaluate that and see if it’s a timing issue or what’s going on,” Vrabel said, via Ben Arthur of The Tennessean. “But just wanted to get him out there and see how he responded. He did OK. There were some good plays and obviously some where we’re going to have to look at the timing of the release or if we’re making the right decision.”

Vrabel’s decision to remove Willis from the game came after the former Liberty star scrambled for 17 yards on 2nd-and-4, so the message from the coach seemed very clear. He acknowledged that Willis kept some plays alive with his legs but said the third-round pick needs to “combine some of that with making great decisions when guys are open and being decisive and accurate with the football.”

For his part, Willis admitted that he “missed some things.” He said he made up for the mistakes with his legs but that he cannot continue to rely on that part of his game.

Willis completed 6-of-11 passes for 107 yards. He added 38 yards and a touchdown on five carries. There were several moments where he showed off his athleticism, but he also held onto the ball too long at times. That is clearly something Vrabel wants Willis to work on.

Video: Malik Willis has impressive Titans preseason debut

Malik Willis at the Scouting Combine

Mar 2, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Malik Willis made the most of his opportunity to start during the Tennessee Titans’ first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Titans selected Willis with the 86th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft in what was not a highly-touted quarterback class. But his performance during Thursday’s game may be a sign that Willis could end up being one of the draft’s biggest steals.

During the second quarter, Willis took a snap on 2nd-and-goal from the seven-yard line and rolled to his right. With multiple Ravens defenders rushing at him, the 23-year-old quickly planted his feet back near the 15-yard line, spun around to the left and made a few defenders miss while sprinting into the end zone for the seven-yard score.

Here’s another angle of Willis’ touchdown.

Willis also looked impressive through the air. He uncorked a deep pass to wide receiver Racey McMath later on in the second quarter, and also completed a Patrick Mahomes-like sidearm throw on the same drive to tight end Tommy Hudson.

Ryan Tannehill, the likely Week 1 starter for Tennessee, did not play. Willis finished his day 6-for-11 with 107 passing yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He also had four rushes for 21 yards and his lone touchdown.

Willis threw for 2,857 yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions at Liberty last season. He also rushed for 878 yards and 13 touchdowns. Willis proved that he could be a true dual-threat quarterback in college, and may have taken a first step towards doing the same at the NFL level.

AJ Brown has bitter reaction to Deebo Samuel contract extension

AJ Brown warms up before a game

Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) warms up before the game against the Chicago Bears at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. Credit: George Walker IV / via Imagn Content Services, LLC

AJ Brown was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles over three months ago, but he still apparently holds some resentment over not getting a contract extension from the Tennessee Titans.

The Eagles acquired Brown from the Titans during the first day of the 2022 NFL Draft for a first-round pick (No. 18) and third-round pick (No. 101).

The Titans were unwilling to give Brown the massive contract he desired, and Brown appeared to take a shot at his former team on Sunday shortly after the San Fransisco 49ers and Deebo Samuel agreed to an extension.

“Basically all 4 of us got the same contract and I’m the only one got traded…yeah keep believing it was me,” Brown tweeted. “Anywho Go Birds #CarryOn.”

Brown was likely referring to Samuel, Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf, Washington Commanders receiver Terry McLaurin, and himself in the tweet. All four players got similar contracts this offseason.

Samuel and the 49ers agreed to a three-year contract extension worth up to $73.5 million. Metcalf received a three-year contract extension worth $72 million from Seattle, which included a record $30 million signing bonus for a receiver. McLaurin and the Commanders agreed to a three-year extension worth up to $71 million.

Brown’s issue is with the Titans, and the fact that they did not give him a big-time extension while the Seahawks, 49ers and Commanders did so for their homegrown receivers. After he was traded, the 25-year-old blamed the Titans for the two sides not being able to come to an agreement. Brown said that the organization gave him a low offer, while he reportedly asked for close to $80 million.

While the Titans did not give Brown what he wanted, the Eagles had no issue. After trading for Brown, the two parties agreed to a four-year, $100 million deal with $57 million guaranteed. Brown may have wanted to stay in Tennessee, but by leaving he got exactly what he wanted.

Titans’ 1st-round pick ‘unavailable’ at minicamp

Treylon Burks in a helmet

Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) tosses the ball after making a catch during a Rookie Mini-Camp practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park Friday, May 13, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV / / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks was a first-round pick during the 2022 NFL Draft, but he has not been able to see much of the field this offseason.

Burks missed last week’s OTAs and two minicamp practices this week. On Wednesday, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said that Burks is “unavailable,” via Jim Wyatt of the team’s website.
Vrabel didn’t provide any specifics on Burks’ status.

Burks has a history with asthma and struggled during his first practice with the team.

Titans wide receivers coach Rob Moore spoke to reporters Wednesday, and offered a more positive take on what Burks has been able to accomplish without being on the field as much as other rookies.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep [Burks] abreast,” Moore said. “He’s getting all the installs and all the information. It’s just a matter of being able to take all that information and put it to practice. He’ll be fine.”

Burks was likely brought in to fill the spot of A.J. Brown, who was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for the 18th pick in this year’s draft. The Titans used that pick to select Burks, who caught 66 passes for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns at Arkansas last season.

Titans legend had hilarious response to AJ Brown tweet

AJ Brown smiles during a game

Dec 20, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) talks with teammates on the bench during the second half against the Detroit Lions at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

AJ Brown caused a stir on social media Friday by dubbing himself the best wide receiver in Tennessee Titans franchise history. Another who could plausibly lay claim to that title had something to say about it after seeing that.

Brown responded to a critical tweet from a fan by calling himself “the best receiver to play for your franchise.” Naturally, that response provoked something of an uproar on social media, with many quick to dispute Brown’s assertion.

One name that came up was that of Derrick Mason, who played eight years with the Titans at the start of his career and was a two-time Pro Bowler and former All-Pro with the franchise. Mason is sixth in Titans franchise history in both touchdown catches and receiving yards, and many would point to him as the modern-day standard for Tennessee wide receivers.

Naturally, Brown’s tweet found its way to Mason, who issued an absolutely hilarious response.

Mason is dismissive of the debate here, but the reference to a “delusional tweet” certainly suggests he is not on board with Brown’s self-appointed title.

Brown, of course, probably won’t care. He’s seemingly been at war with Titans fans ever since he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. He probably isn’t interested in hearing their opinion on this one.

Ryan Tannehill addresses reaction to his Malik Willis comments

Ryan Tannehill at the Pro Bowl

Jan 23, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; Tennessee Titans qaurterback Ryan Tannehill (17) reacts during AFC practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Tannehill faced some criticism a few weeks ago over some comments he made about the Tennessee Titans drafting Malik Willis. As you might expect, the veteran quarterback says the remarks were completely blown out of proportion.

Tannehill drew attention after he said it is not going to be his job to mentor Willis. What he meant was that he will be competing for a starting job with the rookie. Some people thought Tannehill’s way of saying he is going to refuse to help Willis, which he says is not the case. Tannehill was asked about the situation on Tuesday.

“I meant no disrespect to Malik or anything close to that,” Tannehill said. “We’ve been in constant communication since he was drafted. … I’m really just kind of disappointed in how things got spun and twisted a little bit. I pride myself on being a great teammate. I have my whole career.”

Tannehill went on to say that he reached out to Willis immediately after all the negative headlines surfaced.

“As soon as it blew up I reached out to him and said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna be a great teammate to you. I’m gonna support you. They’re making this out to (be something it’s not),'” Tannehill said. “He was great with it the whole time. … Things were great between us from the beginning and continue to be great.”

Reasonable people knew Tannehill was not trying to say he is going to be a jerk to Willis. Rather, the 33-year-old knows he needs to focus on doing everything he can to improve so the former Liberty star does not take his job.

There is a middle ground between being a bad teammate and a full-time mentor. Willis indicated that he understands that when he was asked about the so-called controversy.

Titans’ 1st-round pick had rough first practice

Treylon Burks in a helmet

Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) tosses the ball after making a catch during a Rookie Mini-Camp practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park Friday, May 13, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV / / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Tennessee Titans on Friday took the field for their first practice of rookie minicamp, which is a near-religious experience for most players. It’s the first time they put on the uniform and officially step onto NFL grass. But for wide receiver Treylon Burks, things didn’t go as planned.

It was 86 degrees at Saint Thomas Sports Park, and for some rookies, that’s a big change.

Although Burks was born and played in Arkansas, he struggled in the Tennessee heat. He was seen laboring through early drills and had to leave the field.

Burks eventually returned but managed to run just a few routes before heading back inside.

Following practice, Burks, who has a history with asthma, didn’t speak with reporters. But head coach Mike Vrabel did touch on the situation.

“I think it’s hard to think that they can recreate with a trainer how we do things,” Vrabel said, via Paul Kuharsky. “And we see that with guys that have come back and started with our offseason program, and guys that have joined a few weeks in. It’s just different. I know that they’re working and they think that they are trying to get in shape, but that’s just not the case. That’s something that we have to focus on and try to make sure that we’re getting some work in with all of them. We’re trying to be as smart as we possibly can.”

The Titans stopped short of saying Burks would return to the field on Saturday, but left that door open.

“If he’s out there tomorrow, we’ll coach him up,” Vrabel added.

And you had better believe Burks will do all he can to return.

Mike Tomlin has great quote about Ryan Tannehill comments

Mike Tomlin smiles during a game

Nov 21, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin reacts before the Steelers play against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill made waves this week when he admitted that he doesn’t intend to mentor rookie Malik Willis. The comments were met with immediate backlash, but not everyone is ready to grill Tannehill just yet. In fact, he found some support in the unlikeliest of places: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

Shortly after former Steelers Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor took aim at Tannehill, Tomlin stepped in and offered up the quarterback’s best defense to date.

“You know, it’s good when it occurs, but it’s certainly not necessary,” Tomlin said of mentoring, via Sports Illustrated. “That’s why we have offensive coordinators, quarterback coaches, assistant quarterback coaches, people who are employed and their sole focus is the development of players.”

It is not and has never been the job of an NFL player to train and mentor their eventual replacement. That does tend to happen naturally but as Tomlin says, it’s far from an obligation. That’s a primary role for others.

“Certainly, there’s growth and development opportunities and learning opportunities among players, but it is definitely not their function,” Tomlin said. “Their function is to have themselves ready to go and be good teammates, and I think that’s probably what you speak to just in terms of providing common human decency and courtesy to someone if you can help them along the way. I’m sure Ryan is open to that, but I think he was just stating the obvious, that he was not employed to do that. He’s employed to play quarterback.”

That’s it. Full stop.

There was nothing malicious or derogatory in what Tannehill said, and there was no negativity in his tone. He’s fighting for his own job in Tennessee and remains focused on winning before their window of opportunity closes. That’s what any coach should want out of their starting quarterback.